Statement of problem: The mechanical behavior of the conical connection implant with different torque levels requires evaluation. Purpose: The purpose of this finite element analysis study was to investigate the impact of abutment screw torque on the formation of microgaps at the implant-to-abutment interface of a conical connection under oblique loading. This is important because it is thought that bacteria can invade the internal implant space through the abutment-implant microgaps, causing peri-implantitis. Material and methods: Three-dimensional finite element analyses of the conical implant-abutment connection were performed by using screw torques of 20 Ncm and 30 Ncm. Oblique loads from 10 N to 280 N were applied to the prosthesis placed on the implant. The maximum von Mises stress in the abutment screw, the microgap formation process, and the critical load for bridging the internal implant space were evaluated. Results: The stresses in the abutment screw under oblique loading had limited sensitivity to the screw torque. However, the residual stress in the screw with a 30-Ncm torque was 35% higher than that with a 20-Ncm torque in the absence of an external load. The area in contact at the implant-to-abutment interface decreased with increasing load for both torque values. The critical load for bridging the internal implant space was 160 N for a screw torque of 20 Ncm and 220 N for a screw torque of 30 Ncm. The maximum gap size was approximately 470 μm with all the loads. Conclusions: Increasing the screw torque can reduce the formation of microgaps at the implant-to-abutment interface. However, this will result in higher mean stress in the abutment screw, which may reduce its fatigue life and consequently that of the prosthesis. Further research is needed to evaluate the relationship between the abutment screw torque and microleakage in implant-supported restorations.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute (MSI), University of Minnesota, United States for the provision of finite element software; Mozo Grau, Valladolid, Spain, for providing the implant and abutment samples; Brazilian Federal Agency for Support and Evaluation of Graduate Education within the Ministry of Education of Brazil for financially supporting B.S.H.T. (CAPES N° 88881-187982/2018-01 ); and the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics for hosting her visit, during which time this study was performed.
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