Nickel-titanium closed-coil springs are purported to deliver constant forces over extended ranges of activation and working times. In-vivo studies supporting this claim are limited. The objective of this study was to evaluate changes in force-decay properties of nickel-titanium closed-coil springs after clinical use. Pseudoelastic force-deflection curves for 30 nickel-titanium coil springs (used intraorally) and 15 matched laboratory control springs (simulated intraoral conditions: artificial saliva, 37°C) were tested before and after retrieval via dynamic mechanical analysis and a testing machine, respectively, to evaluate the amounts of force-loss and hysteresis change after 4, 8, or 12 weeks of working time (n = 10 per group). The effects of the oral environment and clinical use on force properties were evaluated by comparing in-vivo and in-vitro data. The springs studied showed a statistically significant decrease in force (approximately 12%) after 4 weeks of clinical use (P <0.01), with a further significant decrease (approximately 7%) from 4 to 8 weeks (P = 0.03), and force levels appearing to remain steady thereafter. Clinical space closure at an average rate of 0.91 mm per month was still observed despite this decrease in force. In-vivo and in-vitro force-loss data were not statistically different. Nickel-titanium closed-coil springs do not deliver constant forces when used intraorally, but they still allow for space-closure rates of approximately 1 mm per month.
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