New Orthodontic Tech May Spell the End of Metal Braces

April 4, 2017
Sarah Handzel, BSN, RN

The days of metal braces may be numbered. The University of Alabama is recruiting study participants for a trial of a new orthodontic treatment option that uses air to reposition teeth. Trial participants must wear the device for 10 hours daily. It can be worn while sleeping. The trial is expected to last 15 months.

Aerodentis uses air pumped into a flexible silicone tube, shown above, to reposition teeth. Image source: YouTube

For years, a mainstay of orthodontic dental treatment has been the application of metal braces to correct crowded teeth. Now, a new product has been developed as a potential game changer — instead of using of metal braces, patients might soon have their crooked smile adjusted by pulsating air.

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Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry are currently recruiting patients for inclusion in a new clinical trial to test the effectiveness of the Aerodentis product. The product is not FDA-approved for use in the U.S. currently, but scientists believe it will only be a matter of time before it becomes a standard part of orthodontic treatment.

To be included in the clinical trial, patients must first undergo a screening that, along with measuring other criteria, such as age and oral hygiene status, determines whether their front teeth are too crowded. If approved for inclusion, patients are randomized and receive either the Aerodentis treatment or a clear plastic aligner.

Treatment with Aerodentis includes a custom-made thermo-plastic mold that is fitted over the teeth with an integrated inflatable silicone balloon. This mouthpiece will be specifically tailored to each patient using vacuum-forming technology that later utilizes CAD/CAM manufacturing and 3D imaging.

During treatment, the mouthpiece is connected to a control console by a small, flexible tube. The control console contains sensors that measure and control the pulsating force of the air moving through the mouthpiece in real time. Each patient that receives the Aerodentis device will also be given a smart card that enables researchers to monitor compliance with the treatment.

Trial participants that receive the Aerodentis system must use it for a minimum of 10 hours each day, but they do not have to be consecutive hours. The clinical trial is expected to be complete after 15 months.

The University of Alabama is the only dental facility in the nation to use the device in a clinical trial. In addition to the Aerodentis device, study participants will also receive X-rays, checkups each month, and an additional orthodontic appliance at a discounted price.

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