Department of Paleoanthropology and Messel Research, Senckenberg Research Institute, Germany
During the EVAN post-doctoral position carried out at the Senkenberg Research Institute of Frankfurt (Germany), virtual approaches for dental wear analysis as well as for bone reconstruction were performed. Concerning the dental field, a method for occlusal wear facets analysis was developed in order to provide a valuable tool for tooth restoration in orthodontics and tooth wear analysis for bioarchaeological and paleoantrhopological materials (Ottmar et al., 2009). A further investigation of this topic concerned the artificial creation of occlusal wear facets in a set of maxillary and mandibular cast of teeth mounted on an articulator. By mean of deviation analysis of 3D digital models of the same tooth under different wear stages, the strong relation between maxillary and mandibular occlusal wear facets was verified.
Furthermore, we have reconstructed the missing left condylar process of the mandible belonging to a famous Italian humanist of the XV century, Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) by means of 3D digital models and thin plate spline (TPS) interpolation function. Finally, stereolithographic (SLA) models of Pico’s skull was prototyped providing the physical assembly of the bony skull structures with a high fitting accuracy. This case study represents an excellent example of the applicability of 3D virtual bone reconstruction in forensic and maxillo-facial surgery. In fact, 3D models can be built from SLA for planning reconstructive surgical operations. These models present the possibility to carry out not only surgical simulation, but they also provide a template for modification of bone plates and for the manufacture of implants.