The aim of this investigation was to assess quantitatively the adaptive changes in the condyles of adult rats to forward mandibular positioning. The level of types II and X collagen expressed in the condyles of adult rats was compared with that formed in response to forward mandibular positioning and the levels of expression were correlated to the amount of bone formed in response to mandibular advancement. Seventy-eight 120-day-old female Sprague-Dawley rats were included in this study. The rats were randomly allocated to six groups. Each group consisted of nine rats with bitejumping devices and four untreated controls. The animals in each group were sacrificed on days 3, 7, 14, 21, 30, and 60. Immunostaining was used for the detection of types II and X collagen, while Alcian blue–PAS was used to observe the extracellular matrix and new bone formation.

The results showed that new cartilage was formed in the posterior condyle. The highest level of expression of types II and X collagen were present on day 21, the amount of increase was 247.99 and 540.08 per cent, respectively. The highest level of new bone formation was measured at day 30 of advancement when the amount of increase in new bone formation was 318.91 per cent. These findings indicate that forward mandibular positioning causes changes in the biophysical environment of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) of adult rats that leads to condylar adaptation.

Address for correspondence A. B. M. Rabie, Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, Prince Philip Dental Hospital, 34 Hospital Road, Hong Kong, China