Neurologic Regulation and Orthodontic Tooth Movement

Stephanos Kyrkanides, Hechang Huang, Richard D. Faber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Pain and discomfort are prevalent symptoms among the vast majority of patients with fixed orthodontic appliances and is the most disliked aspect of treatment. The periodontium is a highly innervated structure that also provides the necessary trophic factors, such as nerve growth factor, which promote neuronal survival, maintenance and axonal growth, via interaction with specific nerve surface receptors, such as TrkA. Various types of nerves are found in the periodontium, including thinly myelinated and unmyelinated sensory fibers that express the neuropeptides substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide among others. Tooth movement activates peripheral sensory nerve endings, which transmit painful signals to the brain after being processed at the trigeminal spinal nucleus, resulting in local expression of pain related genes, such as c-Fos. Concurrently, an attendant inflammatory process is detected in the trigeminal spinal nucleus, including activation of astrocytes, microglia and neurons. This complex neurologic reaction to tooth movement mediates orthodontic pain and also serves a source of neurogenic inflammation exhibited in the trigeminal spinal nucleus and the periodontium. Activated periodontal sensory fibers release neuropeptides in the periodontal environment, which in turn induce a local inflammatory cascade aiding in alveolar bone turnover and tooth movement per se. Control of pain with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other prescription or over-the-counter pain killers effectively reduce this neurologic reaction and alleviate the attendant pain, but also reduce the neurogenic inflammatory component of orthodontic tooth movement causing a slowdown in bone turnover and consequently delaying orthodontic treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-74
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers of oral biology
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 S. Karger AG, Basel. Copyright: All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (all)


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