Three-dimensional force measurements during rapid palatal expansion in Sus scrofa

Kelly Goeckner, Venkatram Pepakayala, Jeanne Nervina, Yogesh Gianchandani, Sunil Kapila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid palatal expansion is an orthodontic procedure widely used to correct the maxillary arch. However, its outcome is significantly influenced by factors that show a high degree of variability amongst patients. The traditional treatment methodology is based on an intuitive and heuristic treatment approach because the forces applied in the three dimensions are indeterminate. To enable optimal and individualized treatment, it is essential to measure the three-dimensional (3D) forces and displacements created by the expander. This paper proposes a method for performing these 3D measurements using a single embedded strain sensor, combining experimental measurements of strain in the palatal expander with 3D finite element analysis (FEA). The method is demonstrated using the maxillary jaw from a freshly euthanized pig (Sus scrofa) and a hyrax-design rapid palatal expander (RPE) appliance with integrated strain gage. The strain gage measurements are recorded using a computer interface, following which the expansion forces and extent of expansion are estimated by FEA. A total activation of 2.0 mm results in peak total force of about 100 N-almost entirely along the direction of expansion. The results also indicate that more than 85% of the input activation is immediately transferred to the palate and/or teeth. These studies demonstrate a method for assessing and individualizing expansion magnitudes and forces during orthopedic expansion of the maxilla. This provides the basis for further development of smart orthodontic appliances that provide real-time readouts of forces and movements, which will allow personalized, optimal treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number64
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016


  • Dental
  • Force measurement
  • Maxillary expansion
  • Strain sensing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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