Objective: To investigate the stresses and strains of an endosseous dental implant in patients with different types of cleft palate in a finite element model. Materials and Methods: Seven three-dimensional (3D) maxillary models were designed on a personal computer according to computed tomography slice data obtained from seven dry skulls. Next, computer-aided modification was performed on each model to produce three other 3D models with different cleft patterns. Thus, four model types with different cleft patterns were designed and termed NORM (without cleft), ALVEOLAR (only alveolar cleft), PALATAL (only palatal cleft), and COMPLETE (complete cleft). An implant was embedded into the molar region of each model, and a 300-N vertical load and 50-N horizontal load were applied to simulate mastication. Under these conditions, the stresses occurring at the implant-bone interface were calculated by finite element analysis. Results: Different stress patterns were observed between the models with a palatal cleft (PALATAL and COMPLETE) and those without palatal cleft (NORM and ALVEOLAR). Regarding vertical load application, greater stresses occurred in PALATAL and COMPLETE types than in NORM and ALVEOLAR types. On application of a horizontal load, though the stresses did not show quantitative difference, their vector patterns differed. Conclusion: In patients with palatal clefts, characteristic stress patterns occur on the bone-implant interface during mastication. This should be taken into consideration when performing an implant treatment in patients with clefts.
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