Modeling dental composite shrinkage by digital image correlation and finite element methods


Modeling dental composite shrinkage by digital image correlation and finite element methods


Dental composites are light-curable resin-based materials with an inherent defect of polymerization shrinkage which may cause tooth deflection and debonding of restorations. This study aimed to combine digital image correlation (DIC) and finite element analysis (FEA) to model the shrinkage behaviors under different light curing regimens. Extracted human molars were prepared with proximal cavities for composite restorations, and then divided into three groups to receive different light curing protocols: regular intensity, low intensity, and step-curing consisting of low and high intensities. For each tooth, the composite fillings were consecutively placed under both unbonded and bonded conditions. At first, the shrinkage of the unbonded restorations was analyzed by DIC and adopted as the setting of FEA. The simulated shrinkage behaviors obtained from FEA were further validated by the measurements in the bonded cases. The results showed that different light curing regimens affected the shrinkage in unbonded restorations, with regular intensity showing the greatest shrinkage strain on the top surface. The shrinkage centers in the bonded cases were located closer to the cavity floor than those in the unbonded cases, and were less affected by curing regimens. The FEA results showed that the stress was modulated by the accumulated light energy density, while step-curing may alleviate the tensile stress along the cavity walls. In this study, DIC provides a complete description of the polymerization shrinkage behaviors of dental composites, which may facilitate the stress analysis in the numerical investigation.


  • Dental composite;
  • Polymerization shrinkage;
  • Digital image correlation;
  • Finite element analysis;
  • Light curing


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