Researchers use a patient’s own bone to accelerate orthodontics

Researchers at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry say they have improved upon a surgical procedure developed by periodontist Tom Wilcko that rapidly straightens teeth, delivering a healthy bite and attractive smile in months instead of years.

Led by Hessam Nowzari DDS, PhD, Director of the USC School of Dentistry and Advanced Education in Periodontology programme, the researchers have published the first case study of the successful use of a patient’s own bone material for the grafting necessary in the accelerated orthodontic surgical procedure.

Accelerated orthodontics is gaining popularity as a way for patients, particularly adults with mature bones, to speed up the time it takes to straighten misaligned bites and fix crowded teeth. USC dentists used a procedure known as PAOO, short for Periodontally Accelerated Osteogenic Orthodontics. With this technique, a periodontist or oral surgeon uses special instruments to score the bone that holds the teeth in place and then applies bone graft material over the grooves. The procedure is done under local anaesthetic in the dental surgery.

As the bone begins to heal, it softens slightly, allowing teeth to be moved into alignment with dental braces in a matter of months, rather than the years required with traditional orthodontics.

Prior to the USC study, the bone graft material used for this procedure was bovine bone and bioactive glass particles to help the bone strengthen as it healed.

Nowzari says that his team believed they could improve the technique by using the patient’s own bone instead of the artificial or bovine graft.

‘Given a choice for grafts, nothing is better than a patient’s own tissue,’ Nowzari explains. ‘It encourages new, healthy bone formation in the grafted area. It’s very safe and eliminates the risk of any disease transmission.’

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