Objective: To improve its mechanical performance, structural optimization had been used in a previous study to obtain an alternative design for a 3-unit inlay-retained fiber-reinforced composite (FRC) dental bridge. In that study, an optimized layout of the FRC substructure had been proposed to minimize stresses in the veneering composite and interfacial stresses between the composite and substructure. The current work aimed to validate in vitro the improved fracture resistance of the optimized design. Methods: All samples for the 3-unit inlay-retained FRC dental bridge were made with glass-fibers (FibreKor) as the substructure, surrounded by a veneering composite (GC Gradia). Two different FRC substructure designs were prepared: a conventional (n = 20) and an optimized design (n = 21). The conventional design was a straight beam linking one proximal box to the other, while the optimized design was a curved beam following the lower outline of the pontic. All samples were loaded to 400 N on a universal test machine (MTS 810) with a loading speed of 0.2 mm/min. During loading, the force and displacement were recorded. Meanwhile, a two-channel acoustic emission (AE) system was used to monitor the development of cracks during loading. Results: The load-displacement curves of the two groups displayed significant differences. For the conventional design, there were numerous drops in load corresponding to local damage of the sample. For the optimized design, the load curves were much smoother. Cracks were clearly visible on the surface of the conventional group only, and the directions of those cracks were perpendicular to those of the most tensile stresses. Results from the more sensitive AE measurement also showed that the optimized design had, on average, fewer cracking events: 38 versus 2969 in the conventional design. Significance: The much lower number of AE events and smoother load-displacement curves indicated that the optimized FRC bridge design had a higher fracture resistance. It is expected that the optimized design will significantly improve the clinical performance of FRC bridges.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials