Inclusion of periodontal ligament fibres in mandibular finite element models leads to an increase in alveolar bone strains

Steven McCormack, Ulrich Witzel, Peter Watson, Michael Fagan, Flora Groening

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Alveolar bone remodelling is vital for the success of dental implants and orthodontic treatments. However, the underlying biomechanical mechanisms, in particular the function of the periodontal ligament (PDL) in bone loading and remodelling, are not well understood. The PDL is a soft fibrous connective tissue that joins the tooth root to the alveolar bone and plays a critical role in the
transmission of loads from the tooth to the surrounding bone. However, due to its complex structure, small size and location within the tooth socket it is difficult to study in vivo. Finite element analysis (FEA) is an ideal tool with which to investigate the role of the PDL, however inclusion of the PDL in FE models is complex and time consuming, therefore consideration must be given to how it is
included. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of including the PDL and its fibrous structure in mandibular finite element models. A high-resolution model of a human molar region was created from micro-computed tomography scans. This is the first time that the fibrous structure of the
PDL has been included in a model with realistic tooth and bone geometry. The results show that omission of the PDL creates a more rigid model, reducing the strains observed in the mandibular corpus which are of interest when considering mandibular functional morphology. How the PDL is modelled also affects the strains. The inclusion of PDL fibres alters the strains in the mandibular bone, increasing the strains in the tooth socket compared to PDL modelled without fibres. As strains in the alveolar bone are thought to play a key role in bone remodelling during orthodontic tooth movement, future FE analyses aimed at improving our understanding and management of orthodontic treatment should include the fibrous structure of the PDL.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0188707
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalPloS ONE
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

We thank Sue Taft (University of Hull) for the μCT scanning of the specimen used in this study.
Funding: This project was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (; BB/I008462/1) (FG and MJF) and Marie Curie Actions Integration Grant (; FP7-PEOPLE PERG7-GA-2010-268430) (FG and MJF). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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