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Int J Numer Method Biomed Eng. 2016 Jun;32(6). doi: 10.1002/cnm.2749. Epub 2015 Oct 29.

Topological design of all-ceramic dental bridges for enhancing fracture resistance.

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School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia.
Discipline of Biomaterials, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, 2010, Australia.


Layered all-ceramic systems have been increasingly adopted in major dental prostheses. However, ceramics are inherently brittle, and they often subject to premature failure under high occlusion forces especially in the posterior region. This study aimed to develop mechanically sound novel topological designs for all-ceramic dental bridges by minimizing the fracture incidence under given loading conditions. A bi-directional evolutionary structural optimization (BESO) technique is implemented within the extended finite element method (XFEM) framework. Extended finite element method allows modeling crack initiation and propagation inside all-ceramic restoration systems. Following this, BESO searches the optimum distribution of two different ceramic materials, namely porcelain and zirconia, for minimizing fracture incidence. A performance index, as per a ratio of peak tensile stress to material strength, is used as a design objective. In this study, the novel XFEM based BESO topology optimization significantly improved structural strength by minimizing performance index for suppressing fracture incidence in the structures. As expected, the fracture resistance and factor of safety of fixed partial dentures structure increased upon redistributing zirconia and porcelain in the optimal topological configuration. Dental CAD/CAM systems and the emerging 3D printing technology were commercially available to facilitate implementation of such a computational design, exhibiting considerable potential for clinical application in the future.


XFEM; dental bridges; fracture resistance; layered ceramic; topology optimization

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