Tooth mobility is the major cause of stress on a tooth implant or partial denture and often results in the damage of the device. For many prosthetic devices like dental bridges, a partial denture used for a person who is missing a tooth to give the appearance and function of a tooth, mobility can cause up to double the amount of stress in comparison to a fixed model. Creating a computer simulation of tooth mobility using Finite Element Analysis allows one to understand and predict this movement in order to improve future dental prosthetic devices. The main cause of tooth mobility within the mouth is the periodontal ligament (PDL). This ligament is a soft biological tissue that surrounds the roots of teeth. The tooth moves when a force like mastication, or chewing, causes the ligament to deform. This deformation is due to the small Young’s Modulus of the ligament. The Young’s Modulus determines the stiffness of a material. In the case of the PDL, the Young’s Modulus is sometimes noted to be 30,000 times smaller than that of dentin, this is the material that makes up the majority of the tooth, and of the alveolar bone, this is the bone in which the tooth lies. The deformation of the PDL is also due to the viscoelastic nature of the ligament. The major elastic component of the ligament is collagen, this material allows the PDL to stretch to a certain limit, and the major viscous component of the ligament is the interstitial fluid between the cells, this allows the material to have a fluid-like nature (4).
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