Date: 20 Oct 2012

An integrated methodology for the functional design of dental prosthesis

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Abstract

In this work it is proposed an integrated methodology for the functional design and simulation of removable complete dentures. This methodology develops in four phases: virtual and physical prototyping, contact forces and areas analysis and functional optimization of teeth and arches geometry. A virtual environment for the modeling of the prosthesis (NM-Tooth) was developed: it includes a database of 3D CAD models of artificial teeth and allows to simulate the fabrication techniques used in dentistry. In particular, it is possible to create a full denture virtual model by a semi-automatic procedure, where a preliminary occlusal configuration is set up. By using rapid-prototyping techniques, a physical model of the prosthesis is manufactured which is utilized for the experimental, in vitro, analysis. The analysis phase includes the study of the occlusion forces in relation to the identification of contact areas; a multi-axial force measuring system allows the detection of forces acting on the physical model. Simultaneously, with a reverse engineering procedure, the relevant contact areas in the virtual model are related with the load configuration. According to the experimental output, it is possible to modify the preliminary geometry both of the arches and of the individual tooth. This integrated methodology is an original instrument to study the dental prosthesis and acquire information for its functional improvement.