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J Dent Res. 1986 Aug;65(8):1046-52.

A numerical model of temporomandibular joint loading.


A numerical model of the mandible, its articulating surfaces, and the forces exerted by the primary masticatory muscles has been developed for the purpose of investigating loading of the temporomandibular joint. Evidence is presented which shows that the temporomandibular joint. Evidence is presented which shows that the temporomandibular joint is a load-bearing joint over the normal functional range of bite-force positions and angles. In this investigation, temporomandibular joint loads were found to vary from a maximum appositional force of 60% of the bite force (when bite forces were applied to the incisors) to a distracting force of about 5% of the bite force (when applied to the distal surfaces of the third molars). TMJ loads tended to reach a minimum as a result of vertically directed bite forces positioned at the second molars. A range of conditions in which bite forces were directed parallel to or within approximately 20 degrees of the mid-sagittal plane was found to be conducive to stability of the temporomandibular joint. This stability included symmetry in the direction and in the magnitude of condylar loads as well as the presence of small forces tending to oppose the condyle and articular eminence. TMJ loads tended to reach a maximum in response to mediolaterally directed bite forces. This result is consistent with the fact that no muscle of mastication exhibits a spatial orientation in which the muscle fibers are predominantly mediolateral in direction.

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