Introduction: The purpose of this experimental study was to demonstrate the stress patterns arising in the region of the mandibular condyle during mastication.
Material and method: Stress analysis was performed using reflection photoelasticity to demonstrate deformation occurring on the surface of the mandible. The rami of three fresh dentate human mandibles were coated with a shell of photoelastic resin. Using a novel loading device, these mandibles were then subjected to external forces (muscular traction, resultant mandibular forces and intra-articular reaction force) reproducing a unilateral biting task between the first right molars. Deformations were measured from the working side.
Results: The trace of isostatic lines from the isoclinic fringes revealed major differences in stress distributions between the three mandibles. These differences were attributed to differences in shape between the three mandibles. Conversely, we consistently found compressive stress patterns along the posterior border of the ramus and tensile stress patterns along the anterior border of the ramus and in the zone situated below the siqmoid notch.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that during this particular task, the mandible is subjected to sagittal forces which tend to straighten the mandibular angle. This implies that new concepts are needed for the positioning of osteosynthesis plates in the condylar region, close to the tensile strain lines, as has been recommended also for other parts of the mandible when applying semi-rigid internal fixation.
Copyright 2002 European Association for Cranio-Maxillofacial Surgery. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.