Pathologic Migration of Anterior Teeth in Patients with Moderate to Severe Periodontitis

Pedram P. Towfighi, Michael A. Brunsvold, Arthur T. Storey, Ralph M. Arnold, Donald E. Willman, C. Alex McMahan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of pathologic migration of anterior teeth in patients with moderate to severe periodontitis. The correlation between pathologic migration of anterior teeth and attachment loss (AL) was investigated, and an attempt was made to identify the most common early form of pathologic migration. Prevalence of tooth migration was studied in a group of 343 patients with moderate to severe periodontitis before treatment. The presence of pathologic migration was determined from the chief complaint and patient awareness of tooth movement in the last 5 years. Forty-four patients (age range 18 to 69; mean = 48.75) with 75 pairs of migrated and non-migrated teeth were studied further to determine if there is a correlation between severity of periodontal AL and pathologic migration. Migrated teeth were compared to control contralateral teeth that did not have migration. In addition, tooth mobility of the anterior teeth on 36 of the 44 patients was measured using the mobility meter. It was anticipated that tooth mobility would follow the same pattern as AL in relation to pathologic migration. The type and severity of displacement was recorded for each tooth affected by migration. The types of pathologic migration recorded were diastema, extrusion, rotation, facial flaring, and drifting into edentulous spaces. Pathologic migration prevalence was 30.03%±2.5 (103/343 subjects). The mean AL of migrated teeth (4.79 ± 0.28 mm) was significantly greater (P < 0.0001) than control teeth (3.21 ± 0.18 mm). The numeric values (called PTV) of migrated teeth (17.6 ± 1.5) were significantly greater (P < 0.0001) than control teeth (9.4 ± 1.1). It was difficult to identify a primary form of displacement, as most patients demonstrated a combination of movements. The percentage of the 44 patients who presented with a specific type of movement was: facial flaring (90.9 ± 4.4%), diastema (88.6 ± 4.8%), rotation (72.7 ± 6.8%), extrusion (68.2 ± 7.1%), and tipping (13.6 ± 5.2%). The results of this study confirms clinical impressions that periodontal disease destruction of the attachment apparatus plays a major role in the etiology of pathologic migration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)967-972
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of periodontology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1997


  • Periodontal attachment loss
  • Tooth migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Periodontics


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