One of the main theories which attempts to explain the phenomenon of tooth eruption suggests that periodontal ligament (PDL) fibroblasts move actively and pull the tooth with them out of its socket. To find further support for this theory, we determined the changes in the shape and orientation of PDL fibroblasts induced by a transition from impeded to unimpeded eruption. We measured nuclear area, elongation (length-to-width ratio), and orientation (angulation in relation to the eruption axis) of PDL fibroblasts in impeded (functionally loaded) and unimpeded (hypoloaded) rat incisors. The mean cross-sectional nuclear area did not differ between fibroblasts in the two groups. In contrast, unimpeded eruption resulted in a marked increase in the mean nuclear elongation (from about 2 to 2.56) and a significant increase in the mean nuclear orientation (from 25.6 to 14.0 degrees). Bivariate analysis suggested that these changes occurred in the same cells. Analysis of nuclear elongation and orientation at various distances from the cementum toward the alveolar bone revealed a profile of both parameters, such that cells located 20 to 80 μm away from the cemental surface were more elongated and more frequently oriented toward the eruption axis, while cells at 0 to 20 and 80 to 100 μm were more round/oval and had a greater angulation with the eruption axis. These findings, together with other observations of changes in cell number, number of microtubules, and migration velocity which occur on the shift to unimpeded eruption, support the theory of active movement of PDL fibroblasts as an important component of tooth eruption.
- Periodontal ligament