Orthodontic relapse after orthodontic treatment is a major clinical issue in the dental field. However, the biological mechanism of orthodontic relapse is still unclear. This study aimed to establish a mouse model of orthodontic retention to examine how retention affects the rate and the amount of orthodontic relapse. We also sought to examine the role of osteoclastogenesis in relapse using an antibody to block the activity of M-CSF, an essential factor of osteoclast formation. Mice were treated with a nickel-titanium closed-coil spring that was fixed between the upper incisors and the upper-left first molar to move the first molar in a mesial direction over 12 days. Mice were randomly divided into three groups: group 1, no retention (G1); group 2, retention for 2 weeks (G2); and group 3, retention for 4 weeks (G3). In G2 and G3, a light-cured resin was placed in the space between the first and second molars as a model of retention. Orthodontic relapse was assessed by measuring changes in the dimensions of the gap created between the first and second molars. To assess the activity and role of osteoclasts, mice in G3 were injected with anti-c-Fms antibody or PBS, and assessed for changes in relapse distance and rate. Overall, we found that a longer retention period was associated with a slower rate of relapse and a shorter overall amount of relapse. In addition, inhibiting osteoclast formation using the anti-c-Fms antibody also reduced orthodontic relapse. These results suggest that M-CSF and/or its receptor could be potential therapeutic targets in the prevention and treatment of orthodontic relapse.
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