Many unsolved problems in dental implant research concern the interfacial stress distributions between the implant components, as well as between the implant surface and contacting bone. To obtain a mechanical understanding of how vertical and horizontal occlusal forces are distributed in this context, it is crucial to develop in vitro testing systems to measure the force transmission between dental implants and attached prostheses. A new approach to such testing, involving a robotic system, is described in this investigation. The system has been designed to produce simulated mandibular movements and occlusal contact forces so that various implant designs and procedures can be thoroughly tested and evaluated before animal testing or human clinical trials. Two commonly used fixed prosthesis designs used to connect an implant and a tooth, a rigid connection and a nonrigid connection, were fabricated and used for experimental verification. The displacement and force distributions generated during simulated chewing activities were measured in vitro. Force levels, potentially harmful to human bone surrounding the connected dental implant and tooth, were analyzed. These results are useful in the design of prostheses and connecting components that will reduce failures and limit stress transfer to the implant/bone interface.

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