Purpose: The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the accuracy of our newly developed approach to digital dental model articulation.
Materials and Methods: Twelve sets of stone dental models from patients with craniomaxillofacial deformities were used for validation. All the models had stable occlusion and no evidence of early contact. The stone models were hand articulated to the maximal intercuspation (MI) position and scanned using a 3-dimensional surface laser scanner. These digital dental models at the MI position served as the control group. To establish an experimental group, each mandibular dental model was disarticulated from its original MI position to 80 initial positions. Using a regular office personal computer, they were digitally articulated to the MI position using our newly developed approach. These rearticulated mandibular models served as the experimental group. Finally, the translational, rotational, and surface deviations in the mandibular position were calculated between the experimental and control groups, and statistical analyses were performed.
Results: All the digital dental models were successfully articulated. Between the control and experimental groups, the largest translational difference in mandibular position was within 0.2 mm ± 0.6 mm. The largest rotational difference was within 0.1° ± 1.1°. The averaged surface deviation was 0.08 ± 0.07. The results of the Bland and Altman method of assessing measurement agreement showed tight limits for the translational, rotational, and surface deviations. In addition, the final positions of the mandibular articulated from the 80 initial positions were absolutely agreed on.
Conclusion: The results of our study have demonstrated that using our approach, the digital dental models can be accurately and effectively articulated to the MI position. In addition, the 3-dimensional surface geometry of the mandibular teeth played a more important role in digital dental articulation than the initial position of the mandibular teeth.