Occlusal forces may induce the physiological teeth migration in humans, but there is little direct evidence. Rat molars are known to migrate distally during aging, possibly caused by occlusal forces. The purpose of this study was to determine if a reduction in occlusion would decrease teeth migration and affect associated periodontal structures such as cementum. To reduce occlusal forces, the right upper first molar (M1) in juvenile rats was extracted. The transition of the position of upper second molar (M2) and formation of M2 cementum was followed during aging. From the cephalometric analyses, upper M2 was located more anterior compared with the original position with aging after M1 extraction. Associated with this "slowing-down" of the physiological drift, cementum thickness on distal surface, but not on mesial surface, of M2 root was significantly increased. The accumulation of alizarin red as vital stain indicative of calcification, was observed in the distal cementum of M2 root only on the side of M1 extraction. Extraction of M1 that results in less functional loading, distinctly attenuates the physiological drift only in the upper dentition. The decreased physiological drift appears to activate acellular cementum formation only on distal surface of M2 root, perhaps due to reduced mechanical stress associated with the attenuated distal drift. In conclusion, the physiological distal drift in rat molars appears to be largely driven by the occlusal force and also affects the formation of acellular cementum. These findings provide additional direct evidence for an important role of occlusal forces in tooth migration.
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