Purpose: This numerical study examined the efficacy and challenges of using resonance frequency analysis to identify the stability of implants placed in mandibles. The study also examined the feasibility of using angular stiffness as an alternative index to quantify dental implant stability in mandibles.
Materials and methods: A finite element model consisting of a mandible, an implant, an abutment, and a bonding layer (between the implant and the mandible) was created in commercially available software ANSYS. The level of osseointegration was modeled by varying the stiffness of the bonding layer. Three sets of boundary conditions were imposed on the mandible: fixed, rotationally free, and rotationally restrained. Three implant locations were studied: central, premolar, and molar positions. An alternative abutment mimicking SmartPeg and eight different implant lengths were also included. A modal analysis and a static analysis were conducted to calculate resonance frequencies and angular stiffness, respectively.
Results: Two types of vibration modes were found. One was jawbone modes, for which the mandible deformed significantly but not the bonding layer. Resonance frequencies of the jawbone modes were not sensitive to the level of osseointegration. The other was implant modes, for which the bonding layer deformed significantly but not the mandible. Among multiple implant modes obtained, only one was trackable as the level of osseointegration increased. The resonance frequency of the trackable implant mode was very sensitive to the implant location as well as boundary conditions, but not as much to the level of osseointegration. In contrast, angular stiffness was sensitive to the level of osseointegration but not as much to boundary conditions.
Conclusion: The efficacy of using resonance frequency analysis to quantify the stability of a dental implant is questionable. Its high sensitivity to implant locations and boundary conditions as well as its low sensitivity to the level of osseointegration cause huge uncertainties in correlating measured resonance frequencies to implant stability. Angular stiffness is a much more reliable indicator because of its high sensitivity to the level of osseointegration and low sensitivity to boundary conditions.