The mechanics of a transpalatal arch in the occlusal plane (symmetrical V-bends, asymmetrical V-bends and step-bends) is studied through four methods : simulation of the teeth movements with a typodont, measure of the forces and the moments with a mechanical System composed of pulleys and dead load devices, photo-elastic stress analysis, finite element stress analysis.
Typodont experimentations display the dental movements : the easiest one is rotation ; it is more difficult to observe distalisation and mesialisation that occur with a version of the tooth.
An experimental apparatus, composed of pulleys and dead load devices, allows to measure forces and moments released by a transpalatal arch, depending on the level of the activations. The authors notice that the distalisation force for an asymmetrical V-bend activation is low, about 0.2 Newton for 5 degrees of activation.
Photo-elastic stress analysis affords a visualization of the shear stresses induced by a transpalatal arch within the supporting structures of a root, thanks to the observation of colored fringes in a model constitued with two molars included in a birefringent resin. Meanwhile, the manipulation of the photo-elastic resin is not easy and the interpretation of the results remains difficult.
The finite element method is a numerical analysis and consists in the fragmentation of the studied structure in a certain number of elements, where forces and moments can be applied : the three dimensional program analyses the stress and strains in these elements. Thus, we can :
1. - vizualize strains and stresses of a transpalatal arch, when it is inserted in the lingual molar sheaths ;
2. - observe the dental movements due to the activations of the transpalatal arch (rotation, version, mesialisation, distalisation) ;
3. - study the stress induced in the periodontal tissue.
The results of these studies are complementary and in agreement. Particularly the second method (measure of forces and moments) and the finite element method provide a mathematical and visual model that could explain clinical results : thus, the main purpose of this research is to understand the orthodontical mechanics used in the edgewise or segmented technique.