Mechanical properties and clinical applications of orthodontic wires.
This review article describes the mechanical properties and clinical applications of stainless steel, cobalt-chromium, nickel-titanium, beta-titanium, and multistranded wires. The consolidation of this literature will provide the clinician with the basic working knowledge on orthodontic wire characteristics and usage. Mechanical properties of these wires are generally assessed by tensile, bending, and torsional tests. Although wire characteristics determined by these tests do not necessarily reflect the behavior of the wires under clinical conditions, they provide a basis for comparison of these wires. The characteristics desirable in an orthodontic wire are a large springback, low stiffness, good formability, high stored energy, biocompatibility and environmental stability, low surface friction, and the capability to be welded or soldered to auxiliaries. Stainless steel wires have remained popular since their introduction to orthodontics because of their formability, biocompatibility and environmental stability, stiffness, resilience, and low cost. Cobalt-chromium (Co-Cr) wires can be manipulated in a softened state and then subjected to heat treatment. Heat treatment of Co-Cr wires results in a wire with properties similar to those of stainless steel. Nitinol wires have a good springback and low stiffness. This alloy, however, has poor formability and joinability. Beta-titanium wires provide a combination of adequate springback, average stiffness, good formability, and can be welded to auxiliaries. Multistranded wires have a high springback and low stiffness when compared with solid stainless steel wires. Optimal use of these orthodontic wires can be made by carefully selecting the appropriate wire type and size to meet the demands of a particular clinical situation.