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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.

), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Common Sense Mechanics


8
THOMAS F. MULLIGAN , DDS

Wire/Bracket Relationships

8 This discussion will appear to be academic at first, and of little use to the clinically oriented
orthodontist, but be patient. The content will increase your appreciation for the treatment
procedures that follow, which will utilize this information on a clinical level in an uncomplicated
manner. The relationship of the archwire to the brackets and tubes, prior to engagement, offers
valuable and interesting information. If a straight wire is placed over angulated brackets, a certain
angular relationship develops between the wire and the plane of the bracket slot (Fig. 95). The
brackets might be angulated as a result of the malocclusion or purposely angulated to permit
overrotations, etc. In any case, a straight wire overlying these brackets, prior to insertion of the wire
into the brackets, gives us clues regarding tooth movement. We cannot eliminate "common sense":
however, since identical force systems can produce different responses due to the biologic nature of
the environment. Teeth extrude more readily than they intrude. Certain rotations occur more easily
than others in different planes of space.
These force systems can become quite complex when more than two teeth are involved.
However, because we have thus far confined our mechanics to relatively simple situations involving
minimal placement of bands (brackets), and will soon be moving into extraction treatment
involving a greater number of bands, it seems appropriate at this time to go into a greater degree of
"exactness". For, if we can understand what is exact, we can then deviate from exactness and begin
to know the value of applying the same principles in "nonexact" terms, in order to achieve our
objectives in a practical way. In other words, we will avoid producing a complex appliance to
satisfy academic needs. Instead, we will keep the appliance simple and "read" the relationships
involved adjacent to the archwire bends as though only two teeth were involved. Disregarding the
other teeth will still allow us to get our results, as the forces transmitted to these "distant" teeth with
relatively light wires requires time, and we are more interested in the short-term movements.
Now that we know the emphasis will be on "practicality", let us not get lost with details that do
not pose a "clinical" threat. The following is presented only to create an awareness of what happens
when wire/bracket relationships change. As multiple brackets enter the picture, the system becomes
complex to apply, as it is then necessary to add the systems at the various brackets to determine the
net effect. This can be time-consuming, inexact, and impractical. If you will read an article titled,
"Force Systems from an Ideal Arch" by Burstone and Koenig (AJO, March 1974), you will
appreciate the true complexity of force systems in orthodontics. At the same time, I think you will
want to utilize what you can in an efficient and simple manner, even if it means sacrificing the
details involved in exactness, particularly since teeth seldom respond in an exact fashion.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Basically, we deal with various wire/bracket relationships created by the malocclusion, archwire
bends, or both. For practical reasons, I prefer to attain bracket alignment regardless of the force
systems produced in the process. Once this is accomplished, desirable force systems can be attained
by placing bends at specific points along the archwire. In other words, we then determine what we
want by creating our own relationships. We have already seen this accomplished during our
discussion on vertical forces and tipback bends.
So, to get a further insight as to the force systems created by wire/bracket relationships, let us
consider the variations. If we begin by using a constant interbracket width (any width) and a center
bend, it can be seen in Figure 96 that the relationship can be created by the bend in the wire or by
the malocclusion. In either case, the force system is the same. As already said, I prefer aligning the
brackets and then determining my own systems by placing the bends where needed. If we now look
at Figure 97, we can see that the bend has been moved off center, but still remains identical to the
relationship created by the malocclusion. Again, in either case the force system is the same. Finally,
in Figure 98 we see that two off-center bends have been placed, the second being inverted, but
placed equidistant from the bracket. Yet the relationship is no different than the one produced by
the malocclusion and a straight wire, so the force systems are identical. Now, if we go back and
look at Figures 96, 97, and 98, and concentrate on the angulated brackets only, we can see what
caused the change in the wire/bracket relationships. The bracket on the left in each case remained
constant in angular relationship with the archwire, while the bracket on the right was slowly rotated
clockwise. Therefore, we can readily accomplish the same by placing bends instead, once the
brackets have been aligned.
Thus far, we have been talking about center and off-center bends only and, therefore, only need
be concerned with Figures 96 and 97. But, for the sake of discussion, and so that later we can prove
that the force systems we have so far discussed in these two bends are really the case, let us become
familiar with Figure 98. After all, everything that lies between the relationships in Figures 96 and
98 is merely a transitioning of force systems.
In my graduate school days, Dr.Charles Burstone referred to Figure 96 as a symmetric bend
relationship. I have adopted the term center bend or gable bend. He referred to Figure 97 as an
asymmetric bend and Figure 98 as a step relationship. I refer to the asymmetric bend as an
off-center bend. Since the step relationship has its place in mechanics, but because I seldom utilize
it (purposely), you will not hear me refer to this relationship in my discussion of Common Sense
Mechanics as it pertains to clinical treatment.
If we can see what forces and moments MUST exist in the two extremes under discussion (Figs.
96 and 98), then we can accept the systems that exist "in between". If you are really interested in
every detail, please refer to the published material I have mentioned.
Center Bend Force System
Let us begin to determine the forces and moments present in the two extremes of the wire/bracket

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

relationships the center bend and the step by applying the requirements for static equilibrium.
Once we can prove these systems are present, by necessity, we can resume our discussion of
mechanics on a practical level. But it is only fair that you see, first, what occurs technically.
Looking at Figure 99, a center bend, we can see that forces must be applied at four separate
points for wire/bracket engagement. Since three requirements (previously discussed) MUST be met
and ARE met to establish the static equilibrium that will and DOES exist, we can go through each
step in order. Let us start by "assuming" all four forces are equal. We don't know, yet, if they are,
but we must start somewhere. Only when all three requirements of static equilibrium are met, will
we have discovered what the actual forces are. We are not interested in any actual figures, but only
relative magnitudes.
If all four forces (activational) are equal, then the first requirement for static equilibrium is
fulfilled. That is, the sum of the vertical forces must equal zero. Since there are no horizontal forces
necessary to engage the wire into the brackets, the second requirement is automatically fulfilled.
That is, the sum of the horizontal forces must equal zero. Since the third requirement says that the
sum of all the moments, measured from ANY point must also equal zero, let us choose the center
point for convenience (Fig. 99).
Now we will determine the moments produced around this point by each force (line of force)
acting at a perpendicular distance to such point. Force A produces a clockwise moment
(activational), equal and opposite to the magnitude of the counterclockwise moment produced by
Force D. Now, Force B produces a counterclockwise moment smaller in magnitude, because it acts
at a smaller distance from this point. Force C, acting at the same distance, produces the same
magnitude, but the moment is clockwise. When we add the four moments produced around this
point, the sum is zero. Therefore, we have met all three requirements for static equilibrium, and the
orginally "assumed" forces are proven to be correct. So, we can now determine the activational
force system at each bracket.
Since Forces A and B produce a couple (pure moment) which is clockwise, and since Forces C
and D produce a counterclockwise couple (Fig. 100A), we have now arrived at the net activational
force system two moments, equal and opposite in magnitude. Tooth movement occurs as the
result of deactivation, as in Figure 100B. From now on we can refer to this system when we discuss
the center bend and know that it must exist in order to conform with the requirements of static
equilibrium.
Step Bend Force System
Now, if we go to the step relationship, which is the other extreme under discussion, we will go
through the same analysis, again using aligned brackets with the bends placed in the wire (Fig.
101A). Since we must start somewhere, we will again "assume" that the four activational forces
shown are equal. If so, the sum of the vertical forces equals zero and the first requirement for static
equilibrium has been fulfilled. Next, the horizontal forces equal zero because there are none, so the

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

second requirement is, likewise, fulfilled. All that remains now is to determine that all the moments
produced around a common point also equal zero, the third and final requirement. Using the same
center point, we can readily see that Force A produces a clockwise moment, the same as that
produced by Force D. Both are clockwise and both are equal in magnitude. However, although the
moments produced by Forces B and C are equal to each other and counterclockwise, they are
smaller in magnitude than Forces A and D, because they are produced at smaller distances.
Therefore, the sum of the moments does not equal zero. Since ALL THREE requirements are not
fulfilled, the original assumption that all activational forces were equal was incorrect.
Figure 101B shows the ONLY system that meets all three requirements. First, although Forces A
and D (equal) are smaller than Forces B and C (equal), the sum of the vertical forces can be seen to
equal zero. The horizontal sum remains zero, as there are no horizontal forces. But, the third
requirement is finally met, because Force A and Force D each produce clockwise moments equal in
magnitude and opposite in direction to the counterclockwise moments produced by Forces B and C.
In spite of the fact that Forces B and C act at smaller distances, balance is maintained due to their
greater magnitudes of force. The important thing to realize is that the net activational forces at each
bracket are unequal, unlike the center bend. If we now take the forces in Figure 101B, which have
been proven to be correct, we can analyze the individual brackets for the net activational force
system. Forces A and B produce a clockwise moment at the left bracket and a net force, as shown in
Fig. 102A. At the right bracket, Forces C and D form a clockwise moment also, with the
magnitudes being the same, as well as a net force equal and opposite to the force at the left bracket.
Now that the net activational system has been determined at each bracket, simple reversal (Fig.
102B) gives the force system acting on the teeth (deactivation).
Variations between these two extremes were shown during the discussion of tipback bends and
will be shown in the next articles dealing with extraction mechanics. It will be seen that as the
wire/bracket relationship (between the center and step configurations) undergoes angular change
relative to the archwire, clockwise moments will transition to zero and, if the relationship change
continues beyond the zero point, finally become counterclockwise. All of this simply means that
there is "Law and Order" to all of this. It is my desire that this can be useful in an everyday practice.
Clinical Demonstrations
If you look ONLY at the two teeth mentioned, Figure 103 illustrates various center bend
relationships produced by the malocclusion itself. Anterior-posterior relationship must also be
considered, as demonstrated in Figure 103 with full wire/bracket engagement, such as with a
rectangular wire.
Figure 104 illustrates step relationships when applying the same approach. The single off-center
bend (as opposed to the step bend which actually contains two off-center bends) has already been
demonstrated many times. Figure 105 shows a rotated central incisor. A wire tied only into the two
central incisors would automatically create the off-center relationship. But, to keep matters simple,
all of the relationships mentioned and formed by the malocclusion are, for the most part,

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

disregarded in obtaining INITIAL bracket alignment. In some cases, however, it would be foolish to
disregard them.
The force system in the single off-center bend lies somewhere in between the center bend and
step relationships, depending on the EXACT wire/bracket angular relationship (Fig. 106). In spite
of the fact that using a constant bend, as already discussed, with variable interbracket distances
produces moments that vary, as seen in Figure 106B, the complication is taken out of it by utilizing
the differential in the system, as demonstrated with use of the tipback bend in overbite correction,
and as will be demonstrated in extraction treatment for anchorage control.
Summary
Do not let this portion of the series on Common Sense Mechanics drive you away. It was
presented to help you appreciate the need for deriving that which can be modified and made useful
in a busy practice. As you will see, the application will not be complex, but rather quite simple.

FIGURES

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 95

Fig. 95 Various angular wire/bracket relationships.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 96

Fig. 96 The same wire/bracket relationship can be created by a bend in the wire or a straight wire in relation to a
malocclusion.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 97

Fig. 97 Off-center bend produces same wire/bracket relationship as a straight wire in relation to a malocclusion.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 98

Fig. 98 Step bend produces the same wire/bracket relationship as a straight wire In relation to a malocclusion.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 99

Fig. 99 Center bend producing wire/bracket relationships that satisfy requirements of static equllibrlum.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 100

Fig. 100 A. Forces A and B In Figure 99 produce a clockwise moment, Forces C and D produce a counterclockwise
moment. B. Tooth movement resulting from deactivatlon of the force systems is counterclockwise from Forces A and B
and clockwise from Forces C and D.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 101

Fig. 101 A. Step bend force system with all four forces equal does not satisfy the requirements of static equlilbrium. B.
Step bend force system with Forces A and D less than Forces B and C doff satisfy the requirements of static
equilibrium.

Fig. 102

Fig. 102 A. Forces A and B in Figure 101 B produce a clockwise moment; Forces C and D also produce a clockwise
moment. B. Clockwise moments result in counterclockwise tooth movement.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 103

Fig. 103 Various center bend relationships produced by malocclusions.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 104

Fig. 104 Various step bend relationships produced by malocclusions.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 105

Fig. 105 A wire tied into rotated central Incisors would create off-center relationship.

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JCO on CD-ROM (Copyright 1998 JCO, Inc.), Volume 1980 Apr(265 - 272): Common Sense Mechanics Part 8

Fig. 106

Fig. 106 A. Center bend relationship. B. Off-center bend relationship. C. Step bend relationship.

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