Introduction: The aim of this in-vitro study was to evaluate the frictional forces generated by various combinations of brackets and orthodontic wires by using an experimental model with 3 nonleveled brackets to gain a better understanding of the resistance to sliding during dental alignment and leveling.
Methods: Two kinds of orthodontic brackets were tested: passive self-ligating brackets and conventional twin stainless steel brackets. The following wires were tested: 3 nickel-titanium (.014, .016, and .016 x .022 in), 2 stainless steel (multistranded .0155 and .016 in), and 1 beta-titanium alloy (.016 in). The ligatures used with conventional brackets were elastomeric modules (power 'O' 110) and preformed stainless steel ligature wire (.010). Each of the 10 bracket-archwire combinations was tested 10 times. Kinetic frictional forces were measured on a specially designed testing machine. The wires tested were pulled through a set of multiple nonleveled brackets at a speed of 4 mm per minute over a distance of 5 mm. All data were statistically analyzed.
Results: The sliding of the wire in the 3-bracket nonaligned system was significantly influenced by wire cross-section dimension (P < 0.001), wire material (P < 0.001), number of wire strands (P < 0.001), and type of ligation (P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Frictional forces can be reduced during alignment by using self-ligating brackets, small dimensions, and less stiff wires, thereby inducing the wire to slide in the slots. Under such conditions, the force required by the orthodontic wire to overcome resistance to sliding is reduced. This allows the wire to exploit its mechanical characteristics more efficiently.