The aim of this study was to test natural teeth stability under various simulated types and degrees of alveolar vertical bone loss, as well as to assess the role that the surrounding bone played for maintaining tooth stability. A three-dimensional finite element model of the human maxillary central incisor with surrounding tissue, including periodontal ligament, enamel, dentin, pulp, and alveolar bone, was established. One side and multiple vertical bone loss were simulated by means of decreasing the surrounding bone level apically from the cemento-enamel junction in 1 mm steps incrementally downward for 10 mm. Natural frequency values of the incisor model with various types and degrees of bone loss were then calculated. The results showed that, with one-sided bone resorption, the model with labial bone loss had the lowest natural frequency decreasing rates (8.2 per cent). On the other hand, in cases of multiple bone loss, vertical bone resorption at the mesial and distal sides had more negative effects on tooth stability compared to vertical bone losses on facial and lingual sides. These findings suggest that the natural frequency method may be a useful, auxiliary clinical tool for diagnosis of vertical periodontal diseases.
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