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Dental Science - Review Article


Construction of a three‑dimensional finite
element model of maxillary first molar and it’s
supporting structures
M. Sameena Begum, M. R. Dinesh1, Kenneth F. H. Tan, Vani Jairaj,
K. Md Khalid, Varun Pratap Singh2

Department of ABSTRACT
Orthodontics and
The finite element method (FEM) is a powerful computational tool for solving stress‑strain problems; its
Dentofacial Orthopaedics,
The Oxford Dental
ability to handle material inhomogeneity and complex shapes makes the FEM, the most suitable method
College and Hospital, for the analysis of internal stress levels in the tooth, periodontium, and alveolar bone. This article intends to
Bommanahalli, explain the steps involved in the generation of a three‑dimensional finite element model of tooth, periodontal
Bangalore, 1D.A.P.M.R.V. ligament (PDL) and alveolar bone, as the procedure of modeling is most important because the result is based
Dental College and on the nature of the modeling systems. Finite element analysis offers a means of determining strain‑stress
Hospital, Bangalore, levels in the tooth, ligament, and bone structures for a broad range of orthodontic loading scenarios without
India, 2Noble Medical producing tissue damage.
College Teaching Hospital
and Research Centre,
Kanchanbari, Biratnagar,
Nepal

Address for correspondence:


Dr. M. Sameena Begum,
E‑mail: drsameena@
gmail.com

Received : 28-04-15
Review completed : 28-04-15
Accepted : 22-05-15 KEY WORDS: Finite element model, orthodontic forces, stress and strain

F inite element models have their current origin and real


use in mechanical engineering analysis and design.[1] It is
as indispensable to an engineer who designs an airplane frame,
Finite element modeling is the representation of geometry in
terms of a finite number of elements and their connection points
known as nodes. These are the building blocks of numerical
as is a pair of arch wires to an orthodontist. The finite element representation of the model. The “elements” present are of the
method (FEM) has been successfully applied to the mechanical finite number as opposed to a theoretical model with complete
study of stress and strain in the field of engineering. It is a continuity. The object of interest has to be broken up into a
method for numerical analysis based on material properties.[2] “meshwork” that consists of a number of nodes on and in the
object. These nodes or points are then connected to form a
The FEM was introduced into dental biomechanical research system of elements. For a two‑dimensional example, if the
in 1973[3] and since then has been applied to analyze the stress brick wall is the network, the bricks are the elements and the
and strain fields in the alveolar support structures.[4] four corners where the bricks meet each other are the “nodes”.

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DOI: How to cite this article: Begum MS, Dinesh MR, Tan KF, Jairaj V, Md Khalid K,
10.4103/0975-7406.163496 Singh VP. Construction of a three-dimensional finite element model of maxillary
first molar and it's supporting structures. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2015;7:S443-50.

© 2015 Journal of Pharmacy And Bioallied Sciences | Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow S443 
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Begum, et al.: Finite element modeling

By knowing the mechanical properties of the object, such as Construction of a geometric model
modulus of elasticity and Poisson’s ratio, one can determine
how much distortion each part of the cube undergoes when The purpose of the geometric modeling phase is to represent
other part is moved by a force.[2] a geometry in terms of points (grids), lines, surfaces (patches)
and volume (hyper patches). In this study, the analytical model
Review of Literature on the Finite Element Method of maxillary first molar was developed according to dimensions
and morphology found in a standard textbook of dental anatomy,
In the general field of medicine, FEM has been applied mainly to physiology, and occlusion by Wheeler’s. The buccal aspect of
orthopedic research[5‑10] in which the mechanical responses of bony maxillary first molar is constructed using key points, which
structures relative to external forces were studied. Furthermore, are identified from Wheeler’s textbook. The key points are
some research[11‑13] has been carried out in order to investigate the represented at different co‑ordinate positions. The following key
soft‑tissue and skeletal responses to mechanical forces.
Table 1: The keypoints of the buccal aspect of maxillary first
The applications of the FEM in dentistry have been found molar
in studies by Thresher and Saito,[14] Knoell,[15] Tanne and K, 1 K, 29, 5.1, 13.25
Sakuda,[16] Atmaram and Mohammed,[17] Cook et al.[18] Tanne,[19] K, 2, −.5, −2 K, 30, 4.6, 13.15
Rubin et al.,[20] Moss et al.,[21] and Miyasaka et al.[22] However, K, 3, −1, −4 K, 31, 4.1, 14
the application of this theory is relatively new in orthodontic K, 4, −.5, −6 K, 32, 3.1, 14.25
research. K, 5, 0.25, −7.5 K, 33, 2.1, 13.75
K, 6, 2, −8 K, 34, 1.1, 13
K, 7, 3, −7.75 K, 35, 0.5, 11
It has been shown in previous studies [16‑20] that the FEM K, 8, 3.5, −7 K, 36, 0.1, 10
can be applicable to the problem of the strain‑stress levels K, 9, 4.25, −6.5 K, 37.9
induced in internal structures. This method also has the K, 10, 5, −7 K, 38, 0.5, 7
potential for equivalent mathematic modeling of a real K, 11, 5.5, −7.5 K, 39, 0.75, 5
K, 12, 6.5, −8 K, 40, 1, 4
object of complicated shape and different materials.
K, 13, 8, −7 K, 41, 0.75, 2
Thus, FEM offers an ideal method for accurate modeling K, 14, 8.5, −6.75 K, 42, 0.5, 1
of the tooth‑periodontium system with its complicated K, 15, 9.75, −5.5 Y1=KY (33)
three‑dimensional geometry. K, 16, 9.75, −3.5 X1=KX (33)
K, 17, 9.5, −3 K, 100, X1+0.5, Y1−0.75
K, 18, 9.25, −1.5 K, 101, X1+0.25, Y1−1.75
Experimental techniques are limited in measuring the internal
K, 19, 9 K, 102, X1+0.35, Y1−3
stress levels of the PDL. Strain gauge techniques[23,24] may be K, 20, 8.75, 1 K, 103, X1+0.5, Y1−3.75
useful in measuring tooth displacement; however, they cannot K, 21, 8.25, 2 K, 104, X1+1, Y1−5.75
be directly placed in the PDL without producing tissue damage. K, 22, 8.15, 3 K, 105, X1+1.5, Y1−7
The photoelastic techniques[25] are also limited in determining K, 23, 8.15, 5 K, 106, X1+2.5, Y1−7
the internal stress levels because of the crudeness of modeling K, 24, 8.1, 7 K, 107, X1+3.5, Y1−6
K, 25, 8.075, 9 K, 108, X1+4, Y1−5
and interpretation. K, 26, 7.5, 11 K, 109, X1+3.5, Y1−3
K, 27, 7, 12 K, 110, X1+3, Y1−2
The force systems that are used on an orthodontic patient can K, 28, 6, 13 K, 111, X1+2.75, Y1−1
be complicated. The FEM makes it possible to apply analytically
various force systems at any point and in any direction.
Experimental techniques on patients or animals are usually Table 2: BSPLINE used to join keypoints
limited in applying known complex force systems. BSPLINE, 1, 2, 3, 4
BSPLINE, 4, 5, 6, 7
BSPLINE, 7, 8, 9, 10
It is very important to keep in mind that the FEM will give
BSPLINE, 10, 11, 12, 13
the results based on the nature of the modeling systems and, BSPLINE, 13, 14, 15, 16
for that reason, the procedure for modeling is most important. BSPLINE, 16, 17, 18, 19
BSPLINE, 19, 20, 21, 22
Steps Involved in the Generation of Finite Element BSPLINE, 22, 23, 24, 25
BSPLINE, 25, 26, 27, 28
Model BSPLINE, 28, 29, 30, 31
BSPLINE, 31, 32, 33, 34
• Construction of a geometric model BSPLINE, 34, 35, 36, 37
• Conversion of the geometric model to a finite element BSPLINE, 37, 38, 39, 40
BSPLINE, 40, 41, 42, 1
model BSPLINE, 33, 100, 101, 102, 103
• Material property data representation BSPLINE, 103, 104, 105, 106
• Defining the boundary condition BSPLINE, 106, 107, 108, 109
• Loading configuration BSPLINE, 109, 110, 111
• Solving the system of linear algebraic equation BSPLINE, 111, 30
• Interpretation of the results. BSPLINE: Boundary smooth plane line

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Begum, et al.: Finite element modeling

Figure 2: Key point representation of the mesial aspect of maxillary


Figure 1: Key point representation of the buccal aspect of maxillary
first molar
first molar

Figure 4: Key point representation of the palatal aspect of maxillary


Figure 3: Key point representation of the distal aspect of maxillary
first molar
first molar

Figure 6: Line point representation of the buccal aspect of maxillary


Figure 5: Key point representation of the occlusal aspect of maxillary first molar
first molar
key point, syntax of k command k, n, x, y, z where n is key point
points mentioned below were plotted on the grids on the work number, x is the x‑coordinate, y is the y‑coordinate, Z is the
plane to build the buccal surface of the maxillary first molar Z‑coordinate) [Figures 1-5].
[Table 1]. The scale of the grid in the work plane measured
1 mm in X‑axis and 1 mm in Y‑axis.(K is the command to build PREP7 (Activation of preprocessor)
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Begum, et al.: Finite element modeling

The key points positions of the buccal aspect are joint to form lines. The key points positions of the buccal aspect are joint to form
[Figures 6-10] The key points numbering used for the built up is lines and from lines to areas. The area plot of buccal aspect is
shown below; (BSPLINE ‑ boundary smooth plane line) [Table 2]. built using ANSYS preprocessor [Figures 11-15].

Figure 7: Line point representation of the mesial aspect of maxillary Figure 8: Line point representation of the distal aspect of maxillary
first molar first molar

Figure 9: Line point representation of the palatal aspect of maxillary Figure 10: Line point representation of the occlusal aspect of maxillary
first molar first molar.

Figure 11: Area representation of the buccal aspect of maxillary first Figure 12: Area representation of the mesial aspect of maxillary first
molar molar

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Begum, et al.: Finite element modeling

Figure 14: Area representation of the palatal aspect of maxillary first


Figure 13: Area representation of the distal aspect of maxillary first
molar
molar

Figure 15: Area representation of the occlusal aspect of maxillary


first molar
Figure 16: Oblique view of the geometric model of the maxillary first
molar

Figure 17: The geometric model of dentin

All the aspects of the maxillary first molar are built up in the Figure 18: The geometric model of dentin
similar manner, extruded and Boolean operations are carried
out to form three‑dimensional geometric model [Figure 16]. The coordinates defining the shape of the PDL was simulated
as a 0.20 mm thick ring around the model of the tooth and
Individual models of enamel, dentin, periodontal ligament (PDL) bone. The software used for the geometric modelling was
and bone structure are built up [Figures 17-20]. [Figure 21].

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Begum, et al.: Finite element modeling

Figure 19: The geometric model of periodontal ligament Figure 20: The geometric model of alveolar bone

Figure 22: The geometric model of enamel was converted into the
three-dimension finite element
Figure 21: The geometric model comprises of tooth, periodontal
ligament and alveolar bone

Figure 24: The geometric model of periodontal ligament was converted


into the three-dimension finite element
Figure 23: The geometric model of dentin was converted into the
three-dimension finite element The geometric models were converted into the finite element
models using hypermesh 7.0 [Figure 26].
Conversion of geometric model to finite element model
The finite element model generation was achieved with the help
Individual models of enamel, dentin, PDL and bone structure of ANSYS 10 software. The element shape which was described
are converted to finite element models using [Figures 22-25] in the model was a solid with a 4 noded tetra hedra (solid45)
hypermesh 7.0. with 3 degrees of freedom (translations in the nodal x, y, and

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Begum, et al.: Finite element modeling

Figure 25: The geometric model of alveolar bone was converted the Figure 26: The geometric model was converted into the three-
three-dimension finite element dimensional finite element model

z directions). These elements were connected to adjacent Table 3: Material parameters used in the finite element model
elements with the help of nodes. The more the number of nodes Material Young’s modulus (Gpa) Poisson’s ratio
and elements, greater will be the accuracy of the result. Hence, Enamel 65.00 0.32
finite element model was constructed, which approximately Dentin 15.00 0.28
consisted of 1, 69,036 elements and 29,518 nodes. Periodontal ligament 0.05 0.30
Alveolar bone 10 0.33

Material property data representation


periodontium and the FEM has frequently been the method of
The different structures in the finite element models are enamel, choice. The FEM provides the orthodontist with quantitative
dentin, PDL, alveolar bone. Each structure is then assigned a data that can extend the understanding of the physiologic
specific material property.[26] These material properties were reactions that take place. In particular, such numerical
the average values reported in the literature. Each material is techniques may yield an improved understanding of the
defined to be homogenous and isotropic[5] [Table 3]. reactions and interactions of individual tissues. Such detailed
information on stresses and strains in tissues is difficult to
Defining the boundary condition obtain accurately by any other experimental techniques because
of the interaction of the surrounding tissues, which may then
The boundary condition, in the finite element models were defined distort the data obtained for any individual material response.
at all the peripheral nodes of the bone with 0° of movement in By applying new techniques such as FEM can theoretically
all directions (the nodes of the base of the models were fixed to predict the stress and strain fields in the tooth, PDL and bone
prevent free body displacement of the model). The final model structures.
was confirmatory from an engineering point of view for this study.
It is very important to keep in mind that the finite element model Financial support and sponsorship
will give the results based on the nature of the modeling system
and for that reason, the procedure for modeling is most important. Nil.

Application of forces Conflicts of interest


Once the models were constructed, a force is applied. There are no conflicts of interest.

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