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J Biomech. 1990;23(11):1157-66.

Three-dimensional finite element analysis of glass-ceramic dental crowns.

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  • 1Department of Dental Biomaterials, College of Dentistry, University of Florida, Gainesville 32610-0446.


Because of the improved esthetic potential of glass-ceramic crowns as dental restorations, they are sometimes preferred over metal-ceramic crowns for restoration of anterior teeth. Because of their relatively high strength, these ceramic crowns are also frequently used for restoration of posterior teeth. However, due to the larger magnitude of biting forces on posterior teeth, intraoral fracture of all-ceramic crowns tends to occur more frequently in posterior crowns (Moffa, 1988). The objective of this study was to determine the relative influence of load orientation and the occlusal thickness of posterior ceramic crowns on the stress distribution which develops under these loading and design conditions. Three-dimensional finite element models for a molar crown were developed to determine the stress distribution under simulated applied loads. Glass-ceramic crowns with occlusal thicknesses of 0.5, 1.5, and 3.0 mm were considered. The largest principal tensile stresses induced in ceramic due to a distributed load of 600 N applied in a cuspal region were approximately 12 and 182 MPa for vertical and horizontal loading orientations, respectively. Stresses which developed in the facial and lingual marginal regions were primarily compressive under vertical loads. However, tensile stresses developed when the load was applied horizontally. Differences in stress distribution within crowns with the three occlusal thicknesses occurred only near the site of loading. Because of the relatively large failure rates of ceramic crowns in the posterior regions, these restorations should be strengthened by improvement in design, composition, and thermal processing conditions. Before any significant progress is made in these areas, these restorations should be used for the anterior teeth. The results of this study suggest that orientation of the applied load has a more important effect on development of large tensile stresses than the occlusal thickness of ceramic.

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