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Model reveals tooth stress

03 June, 2010

PhD graduate and innovator Dr Rudi van Staden applied engineering technology in dentistry to reduce the risk of damage to the jawbone or nerves when attaching imitation teeth.

His research investigated the 'stress' within the human jawbone when surgically implanting a titanium screw, which is used to attach imitation teeth.

Rudi said that dental implants were becoming more and more popular as they provided an enhanced function when compared to dental bridges or crowns.

"However, there is a five per cent failure rate that is believed to be associated with incorrect insertion techniques and a lack of understanding of the complex stress characteristics within the jawbone," Rudi said.

With the help of computer modelling software used for bridges, buildings and big structures, Rudi examined the 'stress' within the jawbone induced by a titanium screw during and after insertion.

"Using medical imaging methods, I created a three-dimensional computer model of the human jawbone and implant and simulated the dynamic implantation process."

There are 560 different jawbone material properties and screw dimensions, and this research can help dentists find the best fit for their patient.

"It is very easy to use the incorrect technique when placing the implant into the jawbone, which can lead to undesirable stresses.

"If that happens then the jawbone will not biomechanically bond with the implant and this can result in instability or even failure."

Rudi said his work had been made possible by the unique collaboration between Griffith School of Engineering and the School of Dentistry and Oral Health, coupled with the support and inspiration he had received from his supervisors: Associate Professor Hong Guan, Professor Yew-Chaye Loo and Professor Newell Johnson.

He is now planning to advance the analysis technique of the implantation method and build a treatment planning database tool that dentists can use.

Rudi came to Griffith with the help of an industry scholarship and undertook this pioneering, multi-disciplinary research project.

Source: Griffith University

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