Mechanical design, analysis, and laboratory testing of a dental implant with axial flexibility similar to natural tooth with periodontal ligament

Pektas, Omer
Tönük, Ergin
At the interface between the jawbone and the roots of natural teeth, a thin, elastic, shock-absorbing tissue, called the periodontal ligament, forms a cushion which provides certain flexibility under mechanical loading. The dental restorations supported by implants, however, involve comparatively rigid connections to the jawbone. This causes overloading of the implant while bearing functional loading together with neighboring natural teeth, which leads to high stresses within the implant system and in the jawbone. A dental implant, with resilient components in the upper structure (abutment) in order to mimic the mechanical behavior of the periodontal ligament in the axial direction, was designed, analyzed in silico, and produced for mechanical testing. The aims of the design were avoiding high levels of stress, loosening of the abutment connection screw, and soft tissue irritations. The finite element analysis of the designed implant revealed that the elastic abutment yielded a similar axial mobility with the natural tooth while keeping stress in the implant at safe levels. The in vitro mechanical testing of the prototype resulted in similar axial mobility predicted by the analysis and as that of a typical natural tooth. The abutment screw did not loosen under repeated loading and there was no static or fatigue failure.