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Understanding Forces and Moments 2



For some reason, the terms forces and moments do not always seem to be thoroughly understood. It is true that the English language seems to suffer over a period of time, but in the area of mechanics it is important to understand exactly what each term means and to use these terms properly. The terminology which follows will be used in a practical manner. There are exacting definitions that may be confusing to many while there are descriptions that may convey a practical meaning to most clinicians. Orthodontic clinicians know from FORCE SYSTEMS personal experience that a specific force system does not necessarily produce the same response for different patients. Nothing in life The same force system may produce a variable response. happens without a reason. Force Force magnitude is a significant factor. magnitude can be very significant. as stated in Figure 2-1. Figure 2-1 With an intrusion arch molars might erupt and/or incisors may intrude. Bicuspids are more likely to undergo an equal and opposite rotational response with powerchain elastics. These responses are illustrated in Figures 2-2 thru 2-4.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2

Teeth may rotate
Molars may erupt.
Incisors may intrude


Forces may produce variable response.

Forces may produce variable response.

Forces may produce variable response.

Figure 2-2

Figure 2-3

Figure 2-4

The following illustrations may help to clarify some of the misconceptions that are present in the orthodontic profession.
When a force acts through the Center of Resistance or Center of Mass, only bodily movement takes place.

Forces act in a straight line. Forces consist of a push or pull.

Figure 2-5 Figure 2-6 In Figure 2-5, a force is applied through the center of mass, a term used in reference to a free body such as a golf ball or baseball. When the same force is applied through the center of an attached body - such as a tooth - the term used is center of resistance. This is nothing new to the orthodontist, but building blocks will slowly be established so that confusion does not arise later when discussing biomechanics. The definition of a force could properly be defined as MxA (Mass times Acceleration), but what meaning would this have for the clinical orthodontist? If we describe rather than define a force, it can be seen in Figure 2-6 that a force acts in a straight line and may consist of a push or pull.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Retracting cuspids with an open coil spring does not result in forces acting in a curve. If we push from the lingual surface of a tooth with a lingual arch, or pull from the buccal surface of a tooth with an archwire, the force acts in a straight line as it passes through the tooth. Figure 2-7 demonstrates this by using descriptions rather than definitions which so often confuse the issue. Depending on exactly where these forces act, moments may or may not be produced. This will be discussed later during the subject of forces and moments.

Forces act in a straight line not a curve

Push from the lingual

Pull from the buccal
Figure 2-7

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Moments are produced as a result of forces acting away from the Center of Resistance or Center of Mass.

The product of force x distance produces the moment on the body. Therefore, 1/2 the force x twice the distance produces the same moment as 1/2 the distance x twice the force.

Figure 2-8

Figure 2-9

When a force acts on a body, but away from the center of resistance (or center of mass), there is a perpendicular distance established between the applied force and the center of the object as shown in Figure 2-8. It is the product of this distance and the force that produces a moment. In other words, if either the force or the distance doubles, the moment produced would double. This is significant because in Figure 2-9 it can be seen that different force magnitudes can produce the same moment. If one force is half the magnitude of the other, but acting at twice the distance, the moments in each case will be equal. This is important to recognize in orthodontic treatment as it affords the opportunity to produce desirable moments without the disadvantage of high force magnitudes, particularly in the vertical plane of space where vertical dimension of the patient might be compromised. Personal experience in our lives can be of great help in recognizing forces and moments produced in orthodontic tooth movement. Most of us have probably played the game of pool often referred to as billiards - sometime in our lives or at least observed it being played by others. It is quite popular on TV.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


So, lets take a look at the game of pool and see how it may be of help in learning. For those who may not be aware, the ball in question is known as the cueball and is the white one seen in Figure 2-10. Keep this in mind so as not to become confused Figure 2-10 with conservation of momentum which involves the other balls. The following examples are those we have experienced or can experience in our daily lives.

For those who are unaware, the cue-ball is the white ball.

Visualize the crown of a tooth as a cue-ball

The Cue Stick represents the force that will be applied to the brackets and tubes of the teeth.
Cue Stick

This represents the Point of Force Application

Figure 2-11

Figure 2-12

The first step involved is to visualize the crown of the tooth as a cue-ball as seen in Figure 2-11. The next step will be to identify the point of force application shown in Figure 2-12 . The cue stick used in the game of pool will represent the source of the applied force. The next question is: In what direction will the cue-ball move and how will it rotate? Keep in mind that the rotation will be clockwise or counterclockwise in pool this is referred to as left or right English. Naturally, the ball will roll down the table due to friction, but disregard this rotation.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2




A force applied through the center of a body will cause the body to move in a straight line and in the same direction as the applied force.

2. A force applied away from the center of a body will cause the body to move in same previous direction, but rotation will also occur as a result of the moment created by the line of force acting at a perpendicular distance to the center of the body.

Figure 2-13

3. Equal and opposite forces applied on a body in the same plane of space and parallel to each other (Couple) will produce a pure moment causing the body to rotate only.

Figure 2-14 There are three possible movements that may occur, just as in the real world of orthodontics. The first movement we observe is pure translation as seen in Figure 2-13. The force has been applied through the center of the bodies shown.

Figure 2-15 Translation and rotation may occur as shown in Figure 2-14 where the force has been applied away from the center of the body as illustrated. The moment in such a case is referred to as the moment of a force. Figure 2-15 shows equal and opposite forces (known as a couple) being applied and producing pure rotation.. The moment in such a case is referred to as the moment of a couple. A pure moment always acts around the center of resistance. Regardless of the where the equal and opposite forces are applied, the body will undergo pure rotation around the center of resistance. Lets see where this concept applies at the clinical level.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


The result of the applied force is a moment and a force at the center of resistance. Center bend producing equal & opposite moments to those already present.

This is an Equivalent Force System.

Figure 2-16 In Figure 2-16 upper left, forces have been applied at the crown level resulting in tipping moments. The force system is always shown at the center of resistance. Remember that a force applied away from the center of a body will cause the body to move in the direction of the applied force and rotate because of the perpendicular distance. With the addition of a center (gable) bend shown in the lower part of the illustration, moments opposite to the tipping moments are created thereby eliminating tipping moments measured at the center of resistance. The result is that only pure forces remain as seen on the right in Figure 216. This is referred to as an equivalent force system. Remember the so-called powerarms that were introduced to the profession in order to create a translatory force through the center of resistance? Where are they now? Does this tell you how successful or unsuccessful the results have been? A clinical example of the above application is seen in Figure 217. Tipping moments are eliminated by equal and opposite moments resulting from a center bend. As will be explained later, all archwire bends are done intraorally and activated 45

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Tipping Moments Eliminating the Tipping Moments

degrees. All adjustments for increasing or decreasing moments for the proper force system are created by adjusting whatever closing mechanism is in use, such as coil springs or powerchain. In Figure 2-18, tipping the incisors together would not be acceptable. The placement of a center bend into the wire produces moments which then result in bodily movement as a result of eliminating the tipping moments produced by the closing mechanism which could be coil springs or powerchain elastics.

Figure 2-17

A closing force at the brackets produces tipping moments eliminated by Center Bends.

Figure 2-18 Translation and Rotation Figures 2-19 and 2-20 demonstrate that a force applied away from the center of a body will cause the body to translate and rotate. Looking at a rotated bicuspid with space mesial to the tooth, it can be seen that applying a mesial force at the bicuspid bracket will produce the necessary force and moment. This obviously simple approach is intended only to illustrate the cueball concept regarding translation and rotation.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Figure 2-19

Figure 2-20

Translation & Rotation Required

Translation & Rotation Required

Figure 2-21 Figure 2-22 Figure 2-21 and Figure 2-22 demonstrate the same concept beautifully as will be seen later when wire/bracket relationships are discussed. For now however, simply keep in mind that by excluding the second bicuspid brackets from the archwire, an off-center bend has been created without the need to remove the wire. In a full appliance the toe-in bend at the molar would actually be a center bend when related to the adjacent molar tube and bicuspid bracket on each side. By not engaging the wire into the second bicuspid bracket an off-center bend has been created. Do you remember the rules for off-center bends? An off-center bend contains a long and a short section. The short section points opposite to the force produced thereby indicating a buccal force on the molar. The toe-in bend (short section) also

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


produces a rotational moment. This approach allows both correction of the molar rotations and crossbites simultaneously without removal of the archwire or use of crossbite elastics. This is only one of many similar approaches that can minimize chairside time for the orthodontist as well as providing a variety of noncompliant and exciting approaches not taught in school. This might be a good time to mention that in over 46 years of practice - thus far - never has the author used a crossbite elastic, transpalatal arch, lingual arch, or any other type of lingual attachments. Why not? Because there are so many alternative and noncompliant approaches that do not require this. Many other types of laboratory appliances which are commonly used today can also be avoided. This will be discussed in the upcoming chapters. Pure Rotation The final cue-ball concept relating to pure rotation - moment of a couple - can now be illustrated. Remember that equal and opposite forces produce a couple.

Surgical Exposure

Moment of a couple
(Pure Rotation)

Figure 2-23

Figure 2-24

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Following surgical exposure seen in Figure 2-23, elastics were utilized to create equal and opposite forces (couple) once the cuspid was brought into alignment (Figure 2-24). The lingual bracket had been placed at the time of exposure as no other surface of the tooth was available for bonding. Simply adding a labial bracket later afforded the opportunity to provide a couple.

Couple Required

Applied Couple

Remember to visualize the crown as a Cue-Ball

Figure 2-25 Figure 2-26 Although there is no difficulty in treating the above rotation with another approach, Figure 2-25 demonstrates the application of a couple in providing the correction seen in Figure 2-26. Figure 2-27 will provide the final example for pure rotation. Following space closure, center bends have been placed to provide for equal and opposite moments at each bracket in order to parallel the roots. Figure 2-27 While discussing forces and moments, we should look at the effect of vertical forces acting through the molar tubes. Undesirable consequences often occur as a result. Figure 2-28

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


shows that intrusive forces may cause buccal displacement of molars due to buccal crown moments produced.
Intrusive force produces buccal crown moment.

As the upper molars are widened, the curve of Monson increases and no longer harmonizes with the curve of Wilson.

Extrusive force produces lingual crown moment.

Intrusive force produces buccal crown moment.

Figure 2-28

Figure 2-29

In the lower part of the same illustration, it is seen that an eruptive force acting through the molar tube produces exactly the opposite moment and therefore possible lingual displacement of molars. These undesirable responses may or may not occur. Steep cusps and brachycephalic individuals with strong musculature are only some of the factors which may play a role. When such undesirable movements do occur, an easy solution is provided by the utilization of molar control bends to be discussed later. In Figure 2-29, it can be seen that buccal displacement of the molars may also result in an increase in the curve of Monson an important functional curve involved in axial loading. It is this type of occurrence that contributes so much to instability and the increase in permanent retention seen today. Since functional curves are an important part of orthodontic treatment, this topic will be discussed now.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Functional Curves

These curves can be helpful in determining which arch is involved and to what degree.


The long axis should lie parallel to the Internal Pterygoid resulting in axial loading (stability).


2 Curve of Monson

3 Curve of Wilson

Figure 2-30 Figure 2-31 Three important functional curves are shown in Figure 2-30. In Figure 2-31, it can be clearly seen that excellent axial loading is achieved in #1, as the curves of Monson and Wilson nicely coincide. However, in #2 there is an excessive curve of Monson while in #3 there is a reverse curve of Wilson. In the latter two cases there is a loss of axial loading which is apparent. These discrepancies can very easily result from vertical forces acting through the molars tubes as shown earlier. It has been shown that eruptive forces through molar tubes create lingual crown moments while intrusive forces acting through molar tubes result in buccal crown moments. The following illustrations will show the potential buccal and lingual displacements that may occur as a result of vertical forces acting through the molar tubes. If the second molars have not yet erupted and the first molars are displaced without the orthodontist being aware of such displacement, then upon second molar eruption it may mistakenly be assumed that second molars are at fault. As a result, treating to the first molar width may then result in a faulty curve of Monson or Wilson.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Lingual Crown Displacement

Buccal Crown Displacement

Original Molar Width

Original Molar Width

2nd Molar Width is Normal

2nd Molar Width is Normal

Change in Molar Width

Change in Molar Width

Figure 2-32

Figure 2-33

In Figure 2-32 #1, the eruptive Second Molars are in force has caused the first molars to move lingually as normal position. observed in #2. In #3, the second molars have now erupted. It remains important to know which of the molars Second Molars are in normal transverse dimension. are out of position. In Figure 2-33 the same series of events Figure 2-34 has occurred with first molars moving buccally due to intrusive forces acting through the molars. It can be observed that second molar eruption may create the illusion that they have erupted too far to the lingual. In Figure 2-34 it can be seen that casual observation could easily lead one to believe the first molars are normal in width with second molars being the problem. The above movements make it important for the clinician to include the functional curves of Monson and Wilson in observing treatment progress. A failure to harmonize these

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


curves may result in functional problems involving axial loading and leading to later instability. This concludes the chapter regarding forces and moments. What may have appeared to be quite elementary at this point will prove to be highly important in applying fundamental mechanics in everyday treatment. Most of what is contained in this book has not been taught as part of an orthodontic curriculum. By understanding the contents presented there will be many opportunities to treat patients in a unique manner regarding the applied mechanics. In addition it will be discovered that there are many approaches available that will lessen the need for patient cooperation without the need for appliances that displace lower incisors because of the undesirable reciprocal effects when treating opposing arches with interarch appliances. You are about to discover many ways of providing intra-arch solutions for many malocclusions that will help to avoid placing appliances on opposing arches which may be normal and require no change.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2



Forces and moments have been discussed in a manner somewhat different than presented in the usual literature. Rather than defining forces, they have been described. Description has meaning to the practicing orthodontist whereas definitions sometime seem to separate the academic nature of mechanics from the reality of application to the patient. It has been pointed out that force systems for the patient produce variable responses. Molars may erupt for one patient but not another simply because of force magnitude. Other movements such as reciprocal first and second bicuspid rotations tend to be quite similar. It has been stressed that force systems must be predicted and understood in order to effectively utilize them for patient treatment. For many, biomechanics may seem like an academic adventure because of unexpected responses. Different types of responses have been demonstrated with the so-called cue-ball concept and clinical examples illustrated. If the orthodontist can begin to associate tooth movement with what has been experienced in life, such association may gradually lead to applications in orthodontic treatment. Finally, the functional curves of occlusion have been presented. It has been shown that the curves of Monson and Wilson should be harmonized for axial loading during occlusion. Such harmony contributes to stability. The forces causing a lack of harmony have been presented and the clinician made aware of their importance in observing functional curves.

Understanding Forces and Moments 2


Smith RJ, Burstone CJ. Mechanics of tooth movement. Am J Orthod 1984;85:294-307. Dawson PE. Evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of occlusal problems. St. Louis: CV Mosby, 1989;85-91. Mulligan TF. Common sense mechnics. 2. Forces and moments. J Clin Orthod 1979;13:676-683.