Dr. Kois presents a valid reality: Dentists seem to have no other choice but to arrive at their own definition of “occlusion.” Awareness, experience, and passion teach us when a mandible’s functional pathways are not in harmony with the stomatognathic system.
How dentists manage dysfunction, the occlusal plane, asymmetric bones, muscle triggers, and both TM joints is predicated on their education and personal experience. Good or bad, this is today’s reality for a profession that struggles with occlusion confusion. All of us “practice,” some of us enjoy system analysis and treatment, most of us want to “know” more.
When we use sensors to measure and record pressure points and mandibular movement throughout a maxillomandibular engagement, we definitely “know” more. Force distribution data compile detailed information from the moment of first contact through maximum force engagement to the release of force until the last contact is recorded. The data is converted to a 3D movie which creates a visual representation of a force distribution cycle. In digital occlusion, sensors record the mandible’s entry, stop, and exit as the event occurs and divide force distribution into three distinct phases, the occlusion phase, the occluded phase (MIP), and the disocclusion phase.
To refresh our memories, here are the definitions of occlusion, occlude, and disocclusion from the Glossary of Prosthetic Terms:
OCCLUSION n (1645)
1: the act or process of closure or of being closed or shut off
2: the static relationship between the incising or masticating surfaces of the maxillary or mandibular teeth or tooth analogues.
OCCLUDE vt (1597)
1: to bring together; to shut
2: to bring or close the mandibular teeth into contact with the maxillary teeth.
DISOCCLUSION n (1645)
Separation of opposing teeth during eccentric movements of the mandible.
These definitions describe the dual nature of the process: A static teeth-touching reference and a dynamic reference factoring in mandibular movements. The words are simple, each referring to mandibular positions immediately before, during, and right after teeth touch.
Occlude is a verb and occlusion and disocclusion are nouns. A verb describes an action. A noun, such as a place, a thing, or an idea, can be qualified. All adjectives associated with the noun occlusion such as centric, digital, habitual, or neuromuscular qualify an occlusion but they do not represent philosophies, camps, or religions.