Role of multiple cusps in tooth fracture

Amir Barani, Mark Bush, Brian Lawn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The role of multiple cusps in the biomechanics of human molar tooth fracture is analysed. A model with four cusps at the bite surface replaces the single dome structure used in previous simulations. Extended finite element modelling, with provision to embed longitudinal cracks into the enamel walls, enables full analysis of crack propagation from initial extension to final failure. The cracks propagate longitudinally around the enamel side walls from starter cracks placed either at the top surface (radial cracks) or from the tooth base (margin cracks). A feature of the crack evolution is its stability, meaning that extension occurs steadily with increasing applied force. Predictions from the model are validated by comparison with experimental data from earlier publications, in which crack development was followed in situ during occlusal loading of extracted human molars. The results show substantial increase in critical forces to produce longitudinal fractures with number of cuspal contacts, indicating a capacity for an individual tooth to spread the load during mastication. It is argued that explicit critical force equations derived in previous studies remain valid, at the least as a means for comparing the capacity for teeth of different dimensions to sustain high bite forces. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
JournalJournal of The Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials
Early online date3 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


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