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Cells Tissues Organs. 2005;180(1):54-68.

Modeling of temporomandibular joint function using MRI and jaw-tracking technologies--mechanics.

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1
Clinic for Masticatory Disorders and Complete Dentures, Center for Oral Medicine, Dental and Maxillofacial Surgery, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. luigi@zui.unizh.ch

Abstract

The study of mechanics of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is important because its dysfunction and breakdown could be, at least partially, of mechanical origin. The incongruity of the articular surfaces of the TMJ is compensated by a fibrocartilaginous articular disc. Its dislocation and failure seem to be closely related to the development of osteoarthritis of the TMJ. The analysis of mandibular kinematics permits the detection and assessment of irregularities of TMJ function due to internal obstacles such as a displaced articular disc. Furthermore, the measurement of the dynamic relationship between the articular surfaces of the TMJ is useful to determine the strains undergone by the disc that if too high might compromise its integrity. The development of our research in TMJ mechanics has evolved from the acquisition of the traces of single mandibular points to an accurate and compact description of mandibular motion, in which the mechanical advantage of jaw muscles, and forces and torques acting on the jaw are considered as well. The combination of three-dimensional software models of TMJ anatomies obtained from MRI and jaw tracking with six degrees of freedom permits a subject-specific dynamic analysis of the intra-articular space, providing insight into individual disc deformation during function and TMJ loading. Studies performed with this system indicate that both TMJs are loaded during chewing, the balancing more so than the working joint. In fact, during chewing, the intra-articular distance is smaller for hard than for soft food, on closing than on opening, on the balancing than on the working side. This last finding is confirmed by static biting experiments, in which the condyle-fossa distance decreases more on the side contralateral to the bite force, depending on its magnitude. Also studies on the dynamics of compression areas indicate that plowing can occur through the disc during function, especially mediolaterally, due to stress field translation. This effect might contribute to cartilage wear and fatigue also because the disc is weaker mediolaterally. Further data indicate that the lateral area of the disc is mostly exposed to a higher mechanical energy density. This will be more intensively investigated using finite element method.

PMID:
16088134
DOI:
10.1159/000086199
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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