Zirconia-based materials veneered with glassy porcelain have become the material of choice for both dentists and their patients. This restoration material is now extensively used in clinical practice for the following reasons: material closely resembles tooth appearance, biofunctionality, biocompatibility and affordability. However, premature clinical failures due to the combination of subsurface flaws and tensile stresses within porcelains raise a concern about their reliability and integrity. This study evaluates structural relaxation in dental porcelain to form a suitable explanation for subsurface tensile stresses. Finite Element Method (FEM) is used for this analysis. User material subroutines, UEXPAN, and UTRS, were developed and integrated into a finite element solver to study the effects of structural relaxation on thermal stresses in veneer during final heat treatment. The predictions of the model were validated through qualitative and quantitave means. A validated model was used for Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Faster cooling rates and high veneer thickness predicted high subsurface tensile stresses due to ineffective structural relaxation. Slow cooling rates and lower veneer thickness showed desired compressive stresses in subsurface areas with visible structural relaxation. This work, emphasizing structural relaxation in veneering dental porcelain, provides a way forward for effective designing of dental restorations. Accordingly, it is useful to tailor the desired stress state for extended life in veneered dental porcelains on zirconia frameworks.
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