Introduction: Individual bone quality depends on genetic, biological, and mechanical influencing factors, where the latter is accessible via Finite Element Simulation. This work is part of an interdisciplinary research project with the purpose of stepwise refinement towards anatomical reality. This approach opened the door for many interrelated applications such as atrophy of the jaw bone, periodontology, implantology, or TMJ disorders. This lecture is dedicated to the influence of dental anatomy on mandibular biomechanics. Materials and Methods: In general, biomechanical simulation requires reconstruction of the individual anatomy, implementation of the inhomogeneous and anisotropic material law of bone, and realization of the load case due to tooth, muscle and joint forces. The simulation chain ranges from image processing of CT data up to specifically adapted post-processing of the simulation results. In spite of ongoing research, there is still a fundamental difference of dental implants compared to natural teeth: the periodontal ligament (PDL) present at the interface between teeth and mandibular corpus. Due to its thickness of about 0.2 mm, the PDL was introduced to the simulation model by a special semiautomatic procedure. Results: Simulations with and without PDL proved remarkable force absorption due to the PDL, as well as qualitative changes of the stress/strain profiles of the alveolar ridge. Concerning the simulation without PDL, the observed high compressive strains at the adjacent bone were in agreement with regions of frequent implant failure. Conclusion: The PDL is essential for the structural behavior of the human mandible. Based on the mechanical adaptation of bone, the comparison of the simulation with and without PDL provided special insight to the changes due to dental implants, in particular implant loss and bone resorption. Finally, the simulation will serve as a virtual platform for further evaluation (a) of implant design (b) of implant placement.
Keywords: mandible, biomechanics, finite element simulation, periodontal ligament, bone adaptation, dental implant