In an interview with K-MAG, Dr Thorsten Pretsch talks about a newly developed material, how the shape change of an aligner works thanks to it and where else shape memory polymers could be used in the future.
Dr Pretsch, you have developed a new material for straightening teeth. What is it about?
Dr Thorsten Pretsch: The material we have developed and tested on model tooth rims is a shape memory polymer made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Strictly speaking, it is an optically transparent polyether urethane.
You talk about shape memory polymers. What does that mean?
Pretsch: Shape memory polymers are among the intelligent materials. Objects can be made from these plastics that change their shape in a previously precisely defined way. An external stimulus such as heat triggers the shape memory effect. In the case of aligners made of shape memory polymer, the splint slowly changes its shape, opening up the possibility of moving misaligned teeth into the desired position. In our case, it is possible to trigger the shape memory effect both by heat and by soaking the polymer in body-warm water.