Coffee drinkers, or at least those wearing braces, may have cause to celebrate. That cup of coffee may wake you up in the morning, but it also may be shifting your teeth faster. One dentist joked, “We may see espresso bars popping up in orthodontist’s offices in the future.” While that might be jumping the gun a bit, the results of the study are interesting.
Researchers at Sichuan University, Peking University, and Sun yat-sen University in China recently published a study which found that a daily intake of caffeine enhanced orthodontic tooth movement (OTM) in rats through increasing the development of a type of bone cell that breaks down bone tissue. This function is natural and is critical in the maintenance, repair, and remodeling of bones.
Tooth movement is all about the connection, the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around, “odont” – tooth). The ligament consists of a group of fibers made of a protein called collagen. These fibers are what anchor and suspend the teeth in the bone. On the other side of the ligament, the fibers insert into bone. The total ligament is like a hammock, allowing teeth some movement in their sockets, and through which they are able to respond to the stresses of biting (force).
Orthodontic tooth movement (OTM) works by moving a solid object (tooth) through a solid medium (bone). Light, constant force is applied to the tooth and that force is in turn transmitted down to the ligament which attaches the tooth to the bone. On the side of the tooth in the direction where the tooth is being moved, the periodontal membrane is squeezed, resulting in compression of the periodontal fibers within the membrane. The bone surface contacting the periodontal membrane begins to resorb due to the activation of cells called osteoclasts.
Meanwhile on the surface of the root from which the tooth moves, the periodontal membrane becomes stretched. This activates cells called osteoblasts. These cells regenerate new bone in the area where the tooth was once located. That is why teeth may be slightly loose during orthodontic treatment. Once the movement has stopped, the ligaments are no longer stretched or squeezed and the bone regenerates and fills in around the periodontal ligament, causing the tooth to be more secure in the bone.
Researchers in China were testing the idea that by drinking coffee daily the OTM process can be sped up. Caffeine has been shown, in previous research, to affect bone metabolism. Caffeine can break the calcium balance in bone tissue and directly inhibit the development of osteoblasts, or cells that secretes the matrix for bone formation. This leads to temporary decreased bone mineral density and as the researchers of this study have shown, in rats at least, that caffeine induces faster orthodontic tooth movement and consequently can shorten the duration in which patients have to wear braces
The study tracked tooth movement in 30 rats. Half were given 25 mg/kg of body weight of caffeine per day while the other half, the control group, was given plain water. After 3 weeks tooth movement was measured in both groups. The results showed that the rats given caffeine had significantly larger tooth movement than those in the control group.
Anyone who’s ever worn braces will tell you the benefits of spending less time in them. Scientists have been investigating ways of speeding up the process for decades with only limited success. Daily coffee consumption may be a promising approach to enhance orthodontic tooth movement with limited side effects. The effects on bone density and calcium balance are temporary and reversible. The results of this study are promising; however, human studies are still required. Coffee bars in your orthodontist’s office are not on the horizon yet.
Dr. Doray is a Philadelphia area Preferred Provider of Invisalign, or invisible braces. Invisalign uses a series of custom fit, clear plastic aligners to help you easily and comfortably straighten your teeth. Because they are removable, you’ll enjoy the freedom of being able to eat and drink (your coffee!!) comfortably. You will also be able to floss and brush your teeth according to your normal routine to keep teeth and gums healthy. And speaking of speeding up tooth movement, Dr. Doray also offers the latest AcceleDent technology which has been proven to accelerate tooth movement in humans, shortening your treatment time with Invisalign. Our patients love speeding up their ortho treatment with AcceleDent.
Contact our office at 215-772-3100 to find out if Invisalign is an option for you to get the beautiful smile you’ve always wanted.