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Vibrating dental device could cut brace-face time in half

The AcceleDent System, which has just received FDA clearance, is a removable device patients with braces wear for 20 minutes a day to speed up tooth movement.

Let's face it. Some things are just plain easier for kids today. Want to ask someone to the school dance without feeling so awkward? Just use your thumbs. Need to do research for a school paper? Just pick your search engine.

AcceleDent is designed to be worn 20 minutes a day. OrthoAccel Technologies

But perhaps my biggest tech envy to date can be found in the newly FDA-cleared AcceleDent system, a device that, when worn just 20 minutes a day, can dramatically speed up orthodontic tooth movement.

Traditionally, dental braces reshape the positioning of one's teeth by applying force to them. The AcceleDent device, worn with braces, simply speeds up tooth movement by vibrating them 20 minutes a day. (Insert inappropriate middle school joke here.)

In a randomized, controlled clinical trial out of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, this vibration accelerated tooth movement by 106 percent during the initial alignment phase, and then 38 to 50 percent later, all without any adverse events.

When considering the mechanics of movement, a simple mouth vibrator makes a certain kind of sense. Whether your insurance company agrees may remain to be seen, but a rep for OrthoAccel Technologies, the developers of the device, says they plan to ship it to orthodontists throughout the U.S. toward the end of January 2012. Pricing will vary depending on the orthodontist.