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This paper presents a new in vitro wear simulator based on spatial parallel kinematics and a biologically inspired implicit force/position hybrid controller to replicate chewing movements and dental wear formations on dental components, such as crowns, bridges or a full set of teeth. The human mandible, guided by passive structures such as posterior teeth and the two temporomandibular joints, moves with up to 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) in Cartesian space. The currently available wear simulators lack the ability to perform these chewing movements. In many cases, their lack of sufficient DOF enables them only to replicate the sliding motion of a single occlusal contact point by neglecting rotational movements and the motion along one Cartesian axis. The motion and forces of more than one occlusal contact points cannot accurately be replicated by these instruments. Furthermore, the majority of wear simulators are unable to control simultaneously the main wear-affecting parameters, considering abrasive mechanical wear, which are the occlusal sliding motion and bite forces in the constraint contact phase of the human chewing cycle. It has been shown that such discrepancies between the true in vivo and the simulated in vitro condition influence the outcome and the quality of wear studies. This can be improved by implementing biological features of the human masticatory system such as tooth compliance realized through the passive action of the periodontal ligament and active bite force control realized though the central nervous system using feedback from periodontal preceptors. The simulator described in this paper can be used for single- and multi-occlusal contact testing due to its kinematics and ability to exactly replicate human translational and rotational mandibular movements with up to 6 DOF without neglecting movements along or around the three Cartesian axes. Recorded human mandibular motion and occlusal force data are the reference inputs of the simulator. Experimental studies of wear using this simulator demonstrate that integrating the biological feature of combined force/position hybrid control in dental material testing improves the linearity and reduces the variability of results. In addition, it has been shown that present biaxially operated dental wear simulators are likely to provide misleading results in comparative in vitro/in vivo one-contact studies due to neglecting the occlusal sliding motion in one plane which could introduce an error of up to 49% since occlusal sliding motion D and volumetric wear loss V(loss) are proportional.


D Raabe, A Harrison, A Ireland, K Alemzadeh, J Sandy, S Dogramadzi, C Melhuish, S Burgess. Improved single- and multi-contact life-time testing of dental restorative materials using key characteristics of the human masticatory system and a force/position-controlled robotic dental wear simulator. Bioinspiration & biomimetics. 2012 Mar;7(1):016002

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PMID: 22155971

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