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U-M Orthodontists Receive AAOF Research Awards

Ann Arbor, MI — March 22, 2016 — Two University of Michigan School of Dentistry orthodontists have received funding from the American Association of Orthodontists Foundation to conduct research that may benefit patients who receive orthodontic care.


Tooth Root Development and Formation

Dr. Wanida Ono, an assistant professor and clinical lecturer in the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry, received $100,000 to investigate how tooth roots develop and the role certain cells play in the process.  During tooth root development, parathyroid hormone-related proteins (PTHrP) “instruct” or signal epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells how the periodontal ligaments and bone cells are to develop around the tooth roots. 

However, sometimes PTHrP receptors mutate which then leads to a rare disease called “primary failure of eruption” which adversely affect posterior teeth.  “The goal of the study is to learn more about mesenchymal cell functions and the mechanisms that lead to this rare disease,” Ono says. 

There have been some studies about tooth root formation and development.  However, she adds, “we still do not understand what the process is, how it takes place and why sometimes things go wrong.”  Ono believes her research will lead to novel approaches that will help orthodontists to stimulate dental root regeneration.

Biological Based Orthodontic Anchorage

Dr. Nan Hatch, the Lysle Johnston Professor of Orthodontics, received the Robert Boyd Biomedical Research Award and $30,000 to investigate and potentially develop a novel, biological way to enhance orthodontic anchorage for orthodontic patients. 

Orthodontic anchorage involves applying carefully controlled mechanical forces to teeth to minimize unwanted tooth movement that results in an unfavorable alignment of the dentition.  Even when using proven orthodontic techniques, anchorage can still be a challenge that may result in unfavorable tooth movement in some patients.  If the dentition is not properly aligned, problems can develop, including difficulty chewing food.

Hatch will investigate if drugs and new biomaterials technology can be used in tandem to control and slow unwanted tooth movement and enhance orthodontic anchorage.