Purpose: To educate dental academic staff and clinicians on the application of descriptive (qualitative) fractography for analyses of clinical and laboratory failures of brittle materials such as glass and ceramic. Materials and Methods: The fracture surface topography of failed glass, glass fiber–reinforced composite, and ceramic restorations (Procera, Cerestore, In-Ceram, porcelain-fused-to-metal) was examined utilizing a scanning electron microscope. Replicas and original failed parts were scrutinized for classic fractographic features such as hackle, wake hackle, twist hackle, arrest lines, and mirrors. Results: Failed surfaces of the veneering porcelain of ceramic and porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns exhibited hackle, wake hackle, twist hackle, arrest lines, and compression curl, which were produced by the interaction of the advancing crack with the microstructure of the material. Fracture surfaces of glass and glass fiber–reinforced composite showed additional features, such as velocity hackle and mirrors. The observed features were good indicators of the local direction of crack propagation and were used to trace the crack back to an initial starting area (the origin). Conclusion: Examples of failure analysis in this study are intended to guide the researcher in using qualitative (descriptive) fractography as a tool for understanding the failure process in brittle restorative materials and also for assessing possible design inadequacies.
Int J Prosthodont 2006;19:185–192.