Finite Element Applications in Dental Implantology
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The modern dental implant is a biocompatible titanium device surgically placed into the jawbone to support a prosthetic tooth crown in order to replace missing teeth. Although implants exhibit excellent long-term retention rates (roughly 95% after 5 years), there are significantly more failures in areas where bone quality and density are low, resulting in poor patient outcomes and costing an estimated $AUD15 million per year in Australia. Most failures arise from poor clinical technique and inadequate understanding of the potentially damaging stress characteristics during implant placement and function. This long-term innovative research aims to develop a comprehensive Finite Element Analysis (FEA) procedure to evaluate the performance of the implant-bone system during implantation, as well as the healing, remodelling and maintenance phases of osseointegration. Once these fundamental data are collected, a 'treatment planning database' aimed at optimising patient-specific treatment outcomes will be developed which helps match implants (with specific design features) with the unique characteristics of the patient's bone at the recipient site. This research when fully completed will advance the fundamental understanding of the forces at play during implant placement, healing and function. This could lead to improvements of both clinical technique and treatment planning, ultimately resulting in superior clinical outcome and cost savings. Summarised herein are the research tasks completed to date. They include the evaluation of the stress distributions within: (1) the mandible as influenced by dental implant and bone parameters; (2) the implant with various implant wall thicknesses; (3) the mandible as influenced by Nobel Biocare, 3i and Neoss implant thread designs; (4) the crown for two abutment-crown connection systems; and (5) the mandible during a step-wise implant insertion process. For each of the five research tasks the implant-bone system is analysed using Strand7 FEA System. The analysis results are obtained in some detail and relevant conclusions drawn.
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