Physical and mechanical properties of elastomers in orthodontic positioners

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      Elastomers for conventional Kesling-type tooth positioners are relatively inelastic and are primarily indicated as finishing devices. However, new materials, first described in the Japanese literature, with claims of a greater range of tooth movement warrant a comparison with conventional materials. Physical and mechanical property testing of positioner elastomers has not been reported in the orthodontic literature. This investigation compared properties of a high temperature vulcanizing (HTV) Japanese silicone (Orthocon) to three traditional polyurethane and vinyl-based polymers and five experimental silicone elastomers. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy established the definitive chemical composition of the urethane and vinyl materials obtained from a commercial positioner laboratory. Tear strength, tensile strength, tensile stress at selected elongations, and ultimate elongation of all materials were evaluated at 37° C in an aqueous environment. Hardness and water sorption values also were determined and an in vitro force measurement apparatus was fabricated to determine force levels exerted by positioner materials at low displacements. Orthocon was statistically different (Duncan's multiple range test, p < 0.05) from the traditional commercial urethane and vinyl materials. Orthocon had lower tear strength than the traditional materials. It also demonstrated lower stress values below 100% elongation. The parameters of tensile stress at 50% elongation and ultimate elongation were statistically identical for Orthocon and one experimental silicone material.
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