Estimation of Bite Forces from Fractures in Primate Teeth

Amir Barani and Mark B. Bush


Teeth, Enamel, Cracks, XFEM, Bite Force


A study is made of longitudinal cracks in a single cusp tooth model in order to develop a simple tool for predicting bite forces from observation of fractures in fossil primate teeth. Longitudinal cracks are characterized as Radial (growing from the cusp towards the margin) or Margin (growing form the margin towards the cusp). The cracks grow stably under compressive (occlusal) load to failure. The failure loads of Margin and Radial cracks follow a generic power law equation, with a slight difference due to different stress histories at the crack front, indicating that a similar mechanism governs both types of longitudinal cracks. The Extended three-dimensional Finite Element Method (XFEM) was utilized to generate step-by-step crack propagation to investigate the importance of geometrical dimensions on fracture load. The results show a greater sensitivity to tooth size (radius) than to the enamel thickness. The XFEM analysis has allowed a simple analytical model for failure load to be ‘calibrated’. The model can then be used to provide an estimate of bit force if a longitudinal crack is evident in a tooth specimen.

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