Purpose: This study aimed to evaluate the probability of survival, Weibull modulus, characteristic strength, and failure modes of computer-aided design/computer-assisted manufacture (CAD/CAM) fiber-reinforced composite (FRC) substructures used for implant-supported fixed dental prostheses (ISFDPs).
Materials and methods: Three-unit ISFDPs (first molar pontic) fabricated as a monolithic composite piece or as composite veneered on a CAD/CAM FRC substructure with either a 12-mm² or 3-mm² connector area (n = 18 each) were subjected to step-stress accelerated life testing in water. Use-level probability Weibull curves and the probability of survival were calculated. Fractographic analysis was performed under polarized light and scanning electron microscopy.
Results: Fatigue did not accelerate the failure of any group, whereas prosthesis strength was the main factor in increased failure (β < 1). The probability Weibull contour plot showed no differences between the ISFDPs with 12 mm² and the monolithic composite ISFDP in characteristic strength (η = 643.5 N and 742.7 N, respectively) or Weibull modulus (6.7 and 5.8, respectively), whereas both were significantly higher than 3 mm² (444.91 N and 9.57). The probability of survival was not statistically different between groups at 100,000 mission cycles at 300 N. Differences were observed in fatigue failures above 800 N; monolithic composite ISFDPs failed catastrophically, whereas those with CAD/CAM FRC substructures presented veneer/composite cohesive or adhesive failures. Cracks evolved from the occlusal contact toward the margins of the cohesively failed composite, and in CAD/CAM FRC prostheses, competing failure modes of cracks developing at the connector area with those at the indentation contact were observed.
Conclusion: The probability of survival did not differ between CAD/CAM FRC with either 3-mm² or 12-mm² connector areas, monolithic composite, or metal-ceramic ISFDPs previously tested under the same methodology. However, differences in failure modes were detected between groups.