The dreaded trip to the orthodontist could soon become far less painful for those who need to have teeth moved about. In the first study of its kind, University of Florida (UF) researchers are testing the power of a natural human hormone called relaxin to biochemically move teeth faster and less painfully during orthodontic treatment. Relaxin is a hormone that helps women’s pelvic ligaments stretch in preparation for giving birth. That ability prompted researchers to consider relaxin as a possible way to accelerate tooth movement and prevent relapse, a condition where the tooth migrates back to its original position after braces are removed.
“Most of orthodontics has traditionally dealt with physics, the biomechanics of applying a force against a tooth to move it,” said study investigator Timothy Wheeler, at UF’s College of Dentistry. “Ours is the first study to use a naturally occurring hormone, recombinant human relaxin, to biochemically augment tooth movement and retention.”
The drug was given the green light last April from the Food and Drug Administration. The UF study will establish safety and proof of principle on 40 people before a series of multi-center studies.
Unfortunately, relaxin does nothing to numb the pain in the hip pocket that often lingers after orthodontic treatment.