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J Dent Res. 1994 Jan;73(1):56-66.

Deformation of the human mandible during simulated tooth clenching.

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Department of Oral Science, Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics School of Dentistry, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.


Localized corpus and dental arch distortions measured directly on human and animal mandibles suggest complex deformation patterns at other mandibular sites during functional loading. To describe these, we simulated selected static bites on a three-dimensional finite element computer model of the human jaw. Five clenching tasks were modeled: intercuspal position, left group function, left group function plus balancing contact, incisal clenching, and right molar clenching. Under conditions of static equilibrium and within the limitations of the current modeling approach, the human jaw deforms elastically during symmetrical and asymmetrical clenching tasks. This deformation is complex, and includes the rotational distortion of the corpora around their axes. In addition, the jaw also deforms parasagittally and transversely. The degree of distortion depended on each clenching task, with actual deformations being relatively small and ranging from 0.46 mm to 1.06 mm for the tasks modeled when all sites were taken into account. The predicted overall narrowing of the dental arch is consistent with clinical reports in the literature during similar, although not identical, static jaw function. The predicted regional deformations of the upper condylar surfaces imply differential loading at their upper surfaces. Although still constrained to forceful static biting conditions, the simulated mandibular and dental arch distortions should be taken into consideration in the design and testing of prosthetic devices in the lower jaw.

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