Abstract

Finite element analysis (FEA) has been proven to be a precise and applicable method for evaluating dental implant systems. By means of FEA, a parasaggital model was digitized from a computed tomography (CT)-generated patient data set, and various single-tooth, osseointegrated, two-dimensional dental implant models were simulated. The specific aims of the study were to: (1) examine the effect of implant diameter variation (3.8 mm–6.5 mm) of both a press-fit, stepped cylindrical implant type and a press-fit, straight cylindrical implant type as osseointegrated in the posterior mandible; (2) compare the stress-dissipating characteristics of the stepped implant versus the straight implant design; and (3) analyze the significance of bite force direction (vertical, horizontal, and oblique 45°) on both implant types. The results of the FEA suggested that (1) using the widest diameter implant is not necessarily the best choice when considering stress distribution to surrounding bone, but within certain morphological limits, for both implant types, an optimum dental implant exists for decreasing the stress magnitudes at the bone-implant interface; (2) stress is more evenly dissipated throughout the stepped cylindrical implant when compared to the straight implant type; and (3) it is important in FEA of dental implants to consider not only axial forces (vertical loading) and horizontal forces (moment-causing loads), but also to consider a combined load (oblique bite force), since these are more realistic bite directions and for a given force will cause the highest localized stress in cortical bone. The theoretical analysis performed implies that clinically, whenever possible, an optimum, not necessarily larger, dental implant should be used based on the specific morphological limitations of the mandible and that a stepped cylindrical design for press-fit situations is most desirable from the standpoint of stress distribution to surrounding bone.

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