A hemispherical contact model for simplifying 3D occlusal surfaces

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Abstract

Statement of problem.

Currently, dental articulators can recreate mandibular movements and occlusal contacts. However, whether virtual articulators can also provide information about occluding dental surfaces, functional movements, and the mandibular condyles is unclear.

Purpose.

The purpose of this in vitro study was to evaluate the occluding surfaces on dental casts obtained from a patient and approximate them to a hemispherical contact model. Both models were tested by digitizing the Dentatus ARL dental articulator.

Material and methods.

A combination of photogrammetry and structure from motion methods were used to scan a Dentatus ARL articulator and representative dental casts. Using computer-aided engineering and finite element analysis, contact points and action vectors to the forces on occluding surfaces and condyles were obtained for cast and hemispherical models. This experiment was performed using centric occlusion and 3 different condylar inclinations. The Kruskal-Wallis 1-way analysis of variance on ranks test was used to allow all pairwise comparisons between condylar inclination and mechanical action vector values in each location (α=.05).

Results.

Action vectors from the cast model and each location of the hemispherical model were calculated to show the mechanical consequences and the similarity among models. Overall, no significant differences were observed for action vectors (A20 versus A40 versus A60) at each location (dental cast/hemisphere, right condylar, and left condylar) in the analysis of dental casts and the hemisphere model (.382≤P≤.999).

Conclusions.

This study provided graphical information that may assist the dental professional in determining which occlusal contacts should be modified to attain condylar and balanced centric occlusion.

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