In recent years in the field of biomechanics, the intensive development of various experimental methods has been observed. The implementation of virtual studies that for a long time have been successfully used in technical sciences also represents a new trend in dental engineering. Among these methods, finite element analysis (FEA) deserves special attention. FEA is a method used to analyze stresses and strains in complex mechanical systems. It enables the mathematical conversion and analysis of mechanical properties of a geometric object. Since the mechanical properties of the human skeleton cannot be examined in vivo, a discipline in which FEA has found particular application is oral and maxillofacial surgery. In this review we summarize the application of FEA in particular oral and maxillofacial fields such as traumatology, orthognathic surgery, reconstructive surgery and implantology presented in the current literature. Based on the available literature, we discuss the methodology and results of research where FEA has been used to understand the pathomechanism of fractures, identify optimal osteosynthesis methods, plan reconstructive operations and design intraosseous implants or osteosynthesis elements. As well as indicating the benefits of FEA in mechanical parameter analysis, we also point out the assumptions and simplifications that are commonly used. The understanding of FEA's opportunities and advantages as well as its limitations and main flaws is crucial to fully exploit its potential.
Keywords: FEA; finite element analysis; maxillofacial surgery; oral surgery.