Vibrational appliances have been claimed to speed up orthodontic treatment with braces. A hand held device that produces vibrations to the teeth is used by a patient with braces for 20 minutes or more each day. The vibrations to the teeth are purported to lead to earlier resolution of crowding. In addition to faster orthodontic treatment with braces it has been proposed that vibratory stimulation can decrease pain following orthodontic adjustments to braces.

The mode of action of vibrational appliances may involve reduction of the stick-slip behavior between braces and the wires. This would therefore then reduce the resistance of the braces bonded to the teeth sliding along the archwire. The other mode of action may involve electrical currents from vibrational appliances activating cellular responses in the bone surrounding teeth. These electrical currents would then accelerate tooth movement.

Studies using monkeys have shown that vibrational devices resulted in faster tooth movements. Therefore an increase in tooth movement in humans would be considered clinically significant. A recent study published in the Australian Orthodontic Journal investigated the benefits of patients with braces using a vibrational device. 66 consecutive patients were assigned to a control group or experimental group. The experimental group used a vibrational device for their braces for 20 minutes per day. The control group did not use a vibrational device with their braces.

Patients recorded their discomfort levels at 5, 8 and 10 weeks after commencing orthodontic treatment. No differences in pain levels were observed at any of the time points between the groups. The irregularity of the patients’ teeth was also measured at 5, 8 and 10 weeks. No significant differences in irregularity could be found between the groups. This study on patients with braces found that there was no clinical advantage in using the vibrational device for the early resolution of crowding or the alleviation of pain during initial alignment.