Journal of Dental Implants
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 107-108

From the Editor's desk: Finite element analysis

BDS and Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Date of Web Publication16-Sep-2014

Correspondence Address:
Rajiv S Khosla
BDS and Diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, Mumbai, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0974-6781.140835

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How to cite this article:
Khosla RS. From the Editor's desk: Finite element analysis. J Dent Implant 2014;4:107-8

How to cite this URL:
Khosla RS. From the Editor's desk: Finite element analysis. J Dent Implant [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Dec 11];4:107-8. Available from:

   Finite element analysis Top

Almost every issue of the Journal of Dental Implants in the recent past has carried a finite element analysis (FEA) study in the "Original Articles" section, but as per our feedback, a lot of readers do not seem to be fully clear about the FEA concept.

Finite element analysis is a computer simulation technique used in engineering analysis. It uses a numerical technique of analysis of stresses and deformations in structures of any given geometry, called the finite element method (FEM). During the last few decades, the application of this predictive technique has revolutionized dental and biomedical research. The FEM has shown great versatility in its applications in dentistry. The complex geometry of any structure is subdivided into "finite elements" connected through nodes. The type, arrangement and the total number of elements affect the accuracy of the results. Nonliving mechanical structures such as implants, abutments, and restorations can be simulated in detail and can substantially influence the calculated stress and strain values, similar to living structures. These materials can be digitally modeled in FEA studies using previously determined isotropic, orthotropic, and/or anisotropic properties. There are many finite element software packages available, both free and proprietary.

Implants as well as the jawbone itself are very complicated structures. In the implant dentistry literature, commonly used materials in FEA studies can be classified under either implant, peri-implant bone (cortical and cancellous) or restoration. The FEM allows application of simulated forces at specific points in the system and stresses analysis in the peri-implant region and surrounding structures. Extensive research has been conducted into implant design, percentage of osseo-integration, various loading scenarios and implant orientation. Even though both two-dimensional and three-dimensional models can be created, two-dimensional models cannot simulate the behavior of three-dimensional structures realistically and hence most of the recent studies have focused on the latter.

Preprocessing, conversion of the geometric model into finite element model, assembly/material property data representation, defining the boundary conditions, loading configuration, processing and postprocessing are the basic steps involved in carrying out FEA.

Finite element analysis has been used extensively to predict the biomechanical performance of various dental implant designs. Research has been conducted on the design philosophy, length, diameter, and shape of implants. Such work has been mainly directed towards finding the most biocompatible materials for making dental implants. The FEM has also been employed to evaluate the effect that the surface roughness of the implant has on the stress profile produced within the surrounding jawbone.

Bone remodeling induced by the change of normal biological stress is one of the most important factors causing implant failure. This is the so-called stress-shielding effect. Using the FEM and para-meterised optimum design technique, the stress-shielding effect can be minimized by performing multi-parameter optimisation of implant, thereby guaranteeing the success of the procedure.

Finite element analysis studies have several advantages over clinical, preclinical, and in vitro studies. Most importantly, patients will not be harmed by the application of new materials and treatment modalities that have not been previously tested. Animals will not suffer from these biomechanical studies. However, clinicians should be aware that all of these applications are being performed on a computer, with critical limitations and assumptions that will clearly affect the applicability of the results to a real scenario. Confirming the FEA results with mechanical tests, conventional clinical model analysis, and preclinical tests are essential. Although advanced computer technology is used to obtain results from simulated models, many factors affecting clinical features such as implant macro and micro design, material properties, loading conditions, and boundary conditions are neglected or ignored. Therefore, correlating FEA results with preclinical and long-term clinical studies may help to validate research models.

The costs of applying this technology to everyday design tasks have been dropping, while the capabilities delivered expanding. With education in the technique and with commercial software packages becoming freely available, the method is fully capable of delivering higher quality products in a shorter design cycle with a reduced chance of field failure, provided it is applied by a capable analyst. The time is now for the dental implant industry to make greater use of this and other analysis techniques.

   Authors Top

Rajiv S Khosla


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