Statement of problem: Loss of retention is a clinical complication for fixed partial dentures (FPDs). However, a method sensitive enough to measure the early retention loss of FPDs is lacking. Purpose: The purpose of this in vitro and finite element analysis (FEA) study was to determine whether resonance frequency analysis (RFA) with a newly developed system can detect lack of FPD retention caused by cement loss. Materials and methods: Two evaluation methods were used: RFA of an in vitro model of a 3-unit FPD from the second premolar to the second molar and FEA by using a simplified model. The in vitro model was used to evaluate 4 connecting conditions: both crowns cemented, only the premolar crown cemented, only the molar crown cemented, and both crowns uncemented. Tapping stimulation (16 impulsive forces, 4 Hz) was directly applied to the buccal side of the second molar or the second premolar, and an attached 3D accelerometer sensor was used to record the resonance frequency (RF) of the tapped tooth. The amplitude, frequency, Q-value, and total area under the curve (AUC) of the RF values in the buccolingual direction were compared between connecting conditions. The FEA was done by using a simplified model of a 3-unit FPD with similar connecting conditions as the in vitro model study, and the RF amplitude and frequency of each tooth were calculated. Statistical evaluation included 1-way analysis of variance and the Tukey HSD test to compare the differences among each connecting condition under each parameter for measurement sites on the molar and the premolar, respectively (α=.05). Results: For both the molar and premolar measurements in both the in vitro and FEA models, when the measurement site was on the uncemented tooth, the amplitude of RF-1 increased, the Q-value of RF-2 decreased, and the area under the curve increased (P<.05). Conclusions: The same 3 trends found between the measurement sites of the in vitro study and FEA indicated that RFA may be useful for detecting an FPD with loosening caused by cement loss, even partial cement loss.
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