Purpose: The aim of this study was to analyze the biomechanics in an implant/tooth-supported system under different occlusal forces with rigid and nonrigid connectors by adopting a nonlinear finite element (FE) approach.
Materials and Methods: A model containing 1 Frialit-2 implant (placed in the second molar position) splinted to the mandibular second premolar was constructed. Nonlinear contact elements were used to simulate a realistic interface fixation between the implant body and abutment screw and the sliding keyway stress-breaker function. Stress distributions in the splinting system with rigid and nonrigid connectors were observed when vertical forces were applied to the tooth, pontic, implant abutment, or complete prosthesis in 10 simulated models.
Results: The displacement obtained from the natural tooth increased 11 times than that of the implant, and the peak stress values within the implant system (σI, max) increased significantly when vertical forces acted only on the premolar of a fixed prosthesis with a rigid connector. The σI, max values seen in the splinting prosthesis were not significantly different when vertical forces (50 N) were applied to the pontic, molar (implant) only, or the entire prosthesis, respectively, regardless of whether rigid or nonrigid connectors were used. Moreover, the peak stress values in the implant system and prosthesis were significantly reduced in single- or multiple-contact situations once vertical forces on the pontic were decreased.
Discussion: The compensatory mechanism between the implant components and keyway sliding function of the implant/tooth-supported prosthesis could be realistically simulated using nonlinear contact FE analysis. The nonrigid connector (keyway device) significantly exploited its function only when the splinting system received light occlusal forces.
Conclusion: Minimization of the occlusal loading force on the pontic area through occlusal adjustment procedures to redistribute stress within the implant system in the maximum intercuspation position for an implant/tooth-supported prosthesis is recommended.