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Why abutment screws fracture - Odds are that its the friction!

Computational modeling of preload while dental implants are assembled


Screw loosening is a problem for a percentage of implants. A probabilistic analysis to determine the cumulative probability distribution of the preload, the probability of obtaining an optimal preload, and the probabilistic sensitivities identifying important variables is lacking.


The purpose of this study was to examine the inherent variability of material properties, surface interactions, and applied torque in an implant system to determine the probability of obtaining desired preload values and to identify the significant variables that affect the preload.


Using software programs, an abutment screw was subjected to a tightening torque and the preload was determined from finite element (FE) analysis. The FE model was integrated with probabilistic analysis software. Two probabilistic analysis methods (advanced mean value and Monte Carlo sampling) were applied to determine the cumulative distribution function (CDF) of preload. The coefficient of friction, elastic moduli, Poisson's ratios, and applied torque were modeled as random variables and defined by probability distributions. Separate probability distributions were determined for the coefficient of friction in well-lubricated and dry environments. The probabilistic analyses were performed and the cumulative distribution of preload was determined for each environment.


A distinct difference was seen between the preload probability distributions generated in a dry environment (normal distribution, mean (SD): 347 (61.9) N) compared to a well-lubricated environment (normal distribution, mean (SD): 616 (92.2) N). The probability of obtaining a preload value within the target range was approximately 54% for the well-lubricated environment and only 0.02% for the dry environment. The preload is predominately affected by the applied torque and coefficient of friction between the screw threads and implant bore at lower and middle values of the preload CDF, and by the applied torque and the elastic modulus of the abutment screw at high values of the preload CDF.


The mating threaded surfaces of the implant should be well lubricated when tightening an abutment screw. By using torque control and a tightening torque greater than that recommended, it is possible to increase the preload beyond that allowed by surface lubrication alone in order to achieve the desired range of preload.

Lubrication at the threaded surfaces between the abutment screw and implant bore affects the preload developed in the implant complex. For the well-lubricated surfaces, only approximately 50% of implants will have preload values within the generally accepted range. This probability can be improved by applying a higher torque than normally recommended or a more closely controlled torque than typically achieved. It is also suggested that materials with higher elastic moduli be used in the manufacture of the abutment screw to achieve a higher preload.




Copyright © 2008 The Editorial Council of the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

https://doi.org/10.1016/S0022-3913(08)60177-8

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