The biomechanics generated by the clear aligner (CA) material changes continuously during orthodontic tooth movement, but this factor remains unknown during the computer-aid design process and the predictability of molars movement is not as expected. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to propose an iterative finite element method to simulate the long-term biomechanical effects of mandibular molar mesialization (MM) in CA therapy under dual-mechanical systems.
Three groups including CA alone, CA with a button, and CA with a modified lever arm (MLA) were created. Material properties of CA were obtained by in vitro mechanical experiments. MM was conducted by the rebound force exerted by CA material and the mesial elastic force (2N, 30° to the occlusal plane) applied to the auxiliary devices. Stress intensity and distribution on periodontal ligament (PDL), attachment, button and MLA, and displacement of the second molar (M2) during the iterations were recorded.
There was a significant difference between the initial and cumulative long-term displacement. Specifically, compared to the beginning, the maximum stress of PDL decreased by 90% on average in the intermediate and final steps. The aligner was the main mechanical system at first, and then, the additional system exerted by the button and MLA dominated gradually. The stress of attachments and auxiliary devices is mainly concentrated on their interfaces with the tooth. Additionally, MLA provided a distal tipping and extrusive moment, which was the only group that manifested a total mesial displacement of the root.
The innovatively designed MLA was more effective in reducing undesigned mesial tipping and rotation of M2 than the traditional button and CA alone, which provided a therapeutic method for MM. The proposed iterative method simulated tooth movement by considering the mechanical characteristic of CA and its long-term mechanical force changes, which will facilitate better movement prediction and minimize the failure rate.

© 2023. The Author(s).