New Device to Put Braces on the Fast Track

What if there were a way for braces to straighten teeth faster? That’s the idea behind the AcceleDent System, a new device to rev up orthodontic treatment.

14-year-old Alyssa Uecker of San Antonio is six months into her braces. She’s excited to be on her way to a better smile. “My teeth were overcrowded and I didn’t like my smile,” Uecker said. “I want them to be straight.”

As part of her treatment at the University of Texas Health Science Center Dental School, Alyssa is part of a study of a product called Acceledent, a handheld device she places in her mouth for a few minutes each night. It delivers a subtle, pulsing vibration. It’s a therapy first conceived to help orthopedic patients with osteoporosis.

“Bone becomes better if it is exposed, for a short period of time, maybe ten or 20 minutes per day, to vibration,” explained UTHSC orthodontist and device co-inventor Dr. Dubravko Pavlin.

The average time spent in braces is about two years (24-26 months). The inventors of Acceledent predict daily use of the vibrating plate may decrease treatment time by 30% to 50%. That would be a major saving in time, discomfort, and possible side effects like decay around the braces themselves.

Uecker says it’s easy to use and not uncomfortable. “It’s not like moving to the point where it’s annoying,” she explained, “or like it hurts. You can just tell it’s there.”

34 San Antonio patients are helping test the device, which may ultimately make the effects of orthodontic treatment more permanent, by stimulating bone remodeling.

“It would be a great thing,” said Pavlin. “Anything that can provide the same results, same quality of results, with the treatment in shorter time would always be welcomed, by the orthodontic community and by patients.”

The Acceledent device will be on the market in Europe this fall. It could be available here in the United States by the fall of 2010.