On dental ceramics and their fracture : a laboratory and numerical study

Sammanfattning: Background Surface treatments and irregularities in the surfaces may affect the fracture of ceramics. The effects of various treatments on the surface texture of different types of ceramic cores/substructures was therefore qualitatively, quantitatively and numerically evaluated. Since fractures in ceramics are not fully understood, the fracture behavior in dental ceramic core/substructures was also studied using both established laboratory methods and newly developed numerical methods. Methods The surfaces of dental ceramic cores/substructures were studied qualitatively by means of a fluorescence penetrant method and scanning electron microscopy, quantitatively evaluated using a profilometer and also numerical simulation. In order to study fracture in zirconia-based fixed partial denture (FPD) frameworks, fractographic analysis in combination with fracture tests and newly developed two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) numerical modeling methods were used. In the numerical modeling methods, the heterogeneity within the materials was described by means of the Weibull distribution law. The Mohr–Coulomb failure criterion with tensile strength cut-off was used to judge whether the material was in an elastic or failed state. Results Manual grinding/polishing could smooth the surfaces on some of the types of dental ceramic cores/substructures studied. Using the fluorescence penetrant method, no cracks/flaws apart from milling grooves could be seen on the surfaces of machined zirconia-based frameworks. Numerical simulations demonstrated that surface grooves affect the fracture of the ceramic bars and the deeper the groove, the sooner the bar fractured. In the laboratory tests the fracture mechanism in the FPD frameworks was identified as tensile failure and irregularities on the ceramic surfaces could act as fracture initiation sites. The numerical modeling codes allowed a better understanding of the fracture mechanism than the laboratory tests; the stress distribution and the fracture process could be reproduced using the mathematical methods of mechanics. Furthermore, a strong correlation was found between the numerical and the laboratory results. Conclusion Based on the findings in the current thesis, smooth surfaces in areas of concentrated tensile stress would be preferable regarding the survival of ceramic restorations, however, the surfaces of only some of the ceramic cores/substructures could be significantly affected by manual polishing. The newly developed 3D method clearly showed the stress distribution and the fracture process in ceramic FPD frameworks, step by step, and seems to be an appropriate tool for use in the prediction of the fracture process in ceramic FPD frameworks.