Neuromuscular evaluation of post-orthodontic stability: an experimental protocol

Int J Adult Orthodon Orthognath Surg. 2002;17(4):307-13.


To prevent relapse after orthodontic treatment, retention is often considered indispensable. Soft tissues are thought to have a significant influence on dental movements. To quantify the influence of masticatory muscles on post-treatment relapse, and in an attempt to avoid unnecessary procedures, 2 male orthodontic patients (13 and 30 years old at debonding) were followed up. The patients completed 2 years of fixed orthodontic treatment and received no post-orthodontic retention. After 1 week and again after 6 months, alginate impressions of dental arches and a surface electromyographic (EMG) assessment of the masseter and temporalis muscles during maximum voluntary clenching were performed. The younger patient received surface EMG monitoring once a month for the first 6 months and at the 1-year follow-up appointment. Arch dimensions and the 3-dimensional inclination of the facial axis of the clinical crown (FACC) were measured using a computerized digitizer. Symmetry in muscular contraction was measured by the percentage overlapping coefficient (POC), and potential lateral displacing components were assessed by the torque coefficient (TC). At the 6-month follow-up, no clinical modifications were observed. Quantitative evaluation assessed that arch dimensions had changed slightly (up to 1 mm). While the adolescent patient had no modifications in FACC inclinations, the 30-year-old patient showed significant alterations (up to 18 degrees). In all examinations of the adolescent patient, POC was higher than 86% and TC was lower than 10%. In the adult, POC was inside the normal range, while all TCs were higher than 10.5%. The larger TC measured in the adult may explain the larger modifications in the 3-dimensional position of his dental crowns. In conclusion, a surface EMG assessment may help in the detection of patients who might need post-orthodontic retention.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Bite Force
  • Dental Arch / anatomy & histology
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Malocclusion / physiopathology
  • Malocclusion / therapy*
  • Masticatory Muscles / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Orthodontics, Corrective*
  • Secondary Prevention
  • Tooth Crown / anatomy & histology
  • Torque