The aim of this study was to evaluate the potential for using the natural frequency (NF) as a parameter to detect vertical bone loss at the furcation of human molars as well as to assess the role that the surrounding bone plays in maintaining molar stability. A three-dimensional finite element model of the human maxillary molar was built. The NF values of the molar modal were calculated with one-sided, two-sided, and three-sided vertical bone loss. It was found that the change in the NF was less than 25 per cent in molars with a one-sided defect when the bone level varied by 10 mm from the cementoenamel junction. However, when a three-sided bony defect was simulated, the change in the NF ranged from 40 to 60 per cent. In addition, it was found that bone loss that had reached the furcation entrance (4 mm) resulted in a sharp change in the NF value. Furthermore, it was found that bone loss involving the mesial and distal surfaces resulted in a larger decrease in the NF value compared with bone loss involving the buccal and palatal surfaces. These results demonstrated that the bone surrounding the mesial and distal sides plays a more important role in maintaining molar stability than does the bone surrounding the buccal and palatal sides.