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J Contemp Dent Pract. 2004 Feb 15;5(1):74-93.

Photoelastic study of the effects of occlusal surface morphology on tooth apical stress from vertical bite forces.

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Department of Oral Anatomy & Physiology in the Stomatological College at the Fourth Military Medical University in Xi'an, China.


The aim of the study was to determine how the morphology of occlusal surfaces might affect occlusal loading that is transferred to the tooth apex. Photoelastic methods were used to assess apical stress generated by seven variations of occlusions. A test assembly with a 2 kg weight was applied to teeth to create a vertical load. By analyzing the direction and magnitude of the apical principle stress under the polar light that was measured at the apexes of mandibular teeth, the occlusal loading position of each tooth and its direction was obtained based on general mechanical principles. It was found distal incline planes (or slopes) of cusps and lingual incline planes (or slope) of buccal cusps of mandibular posterior teeth carried the greatest occlusal load in normal occlusion. In the other six variations of occlusion presented in this study, the principle apical stresses changed more or less as a result of the different occlusal contact relationships. The magnitude of principle apical stress increased considerably in the flat surface occlusion because of the lack of distribution of occlusion loading by the smooth dentition surface. It is concluded the occlusal surface morphology has a significant effect on the direction and magnitude of apical stress. To establish a suitable relationship of occlusion that can conduct favorable occlusal loading physiologically is very important.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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