Static and dynamic mechanics of the temporomandibular joint: Plowing forces, joint load and tissue stress

J. Nickel, R. Spilker, L. Iwasaki, Y. Gonzalez, W. D. McCall, R. Ohrbach, M. W. Beatty, D. Marx

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Objectives - To determine the combined effects 1) of stress-field aspect ratio and velocity and compressive strain and 2) joint load, on temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc mechanics. Setting and Sample Population - Fifty-two subjects (30 $; 22 #) participated in the TMJ load experiments. Material and Methods - In the absence of human tissue, pig TMJ discs were used to determine the effects of variables 1) on surface plowing forces, and to build a biphasic finite element model (bFEM) to test the effect of human joint loads and 2) on tissue stresses. In the laboratory, discs received a 7.6 N static load via an acrylic indenter before cyclic movement. Data were recorded and analysed using ANOVA. To determine human joint loads, Research Diagnostic Criteria calibrated investigators classified subjects based on signs of disc displacement (DD) and pain (+DD +pain, n = 18; +DD) pain, n = 17; -DD/-pain, n = 17). Three-dimensional geometries were produced for each subject and used in a computer model to calculate joint loads. Results - The combined effects of compressive strain, and aspect ratio and velocity of stress-field translation correlated with plowing forces (R2 = 0.85). +DD )pain subjects produced 60% higher joint loads (ANOVA, p < 0.05), which increased bFEM-calculated compressive strain and peak total normal stress. Conclusions - Static and dynamic variables of the stress-field and subjectdependent joint load significantly affect disc mechanics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)159-167
Number of pages9
JournalOrthodontics and Craniofacial Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Biphasic finite element model
  • Cartilage
  • Mechanics
  • Plowing
  • Temporomandibular joint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthodontics
  • Surgery
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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