Summary Background/objective: To investigate the effects of temperature changes and stress loading on the mechanical and shape memory properties of thermoplastic materials with different glass transition behaviours and crystal structures. Materials/methods: Five thermoplastic materials, polyethylene terephthalate glycol (Duran®, Scheu Dental), polypropylene (Hardcast®, Scheu Dental), and polyurethane (SMP MM®, SMP Technologies) with three different glass transition temperatures (T g) were selected. The T g and crystal structure were assessed using differential scanning calorimetry and X-ray diffraction. The deterioration of mechanical properties by thermal cycling and the orthodontic forces during stepwise temperature changes were investigated using nanoindentation testing and custom-made force-measuring system. The mechanical properties were also evaluated by three-point bending tests; shape recovery with heating was then investigated. Results: The mechanical properties for each material were decreased significantly by 2500 cycles and great decrease was observed for Hardcast (crystal plastic) with higher T g (155.5°C) and PU 1 (crystalline or semi-crystalline plastic) with lower T g (29.6°C). The Duran, PU 2, and PU 3 with intermediate T g (75.3°C for Duran, 56.5°C for PU 2, and 80.7°C for PU 3) showed relatively stable mechanical properties with thermal cycling. The polyurethane polymers showed perfect shape memory effect within the range of intraoral temperature changes. The orthodontic force produced by thermoplastic appliances decreased with the stepwise temperature change for all materials. Conclusions/implications: Orthodontic forces delivered by thermoplastic appliances may influence by the T g of the materials, but not the crystal structure. Polyurethane is attractive thermoplastic materials due to their unique shape memory phenomenon, but stress relaxation with temperature changes is expected.
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