The Dawson Academy Blog

Dental Articles on Occlusion, Centric Relation, Restorative Dentistry & More

is considered to be one of the most influential clinicians and teachers in the history of dentistry. He is the author of the all-time best selling dental textbook, Evaluation, Diagnosis and Treatment of Occlusal Problems, as well as, Functional Occlusion: From TMJ to Smile Design released in 2006, and The Complete Dentist Manual released in 2017. He is the founder of the “Concept of Complete Dentistry® Series” as well as The Dawson Academy. In 2016 Dr. Dawson was presented with the ADA Distinguished Service Award. In addition to numerous other awards and recognitions, Dr. Dawson is the past president of the American Equilibration Society, the Academy of Restorative Dentistry, and the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.

Recent Posts

Time-Tested Process for Diagnosing Occluso Muscle Disorder

In this blog article, Dr. Peter Dawson responds to a comment made on a previous article. The following was the comment:

It has been demonstrated repeatedly since 1997 that the relationship of bruxism to chronic craniofacial pain is non-linear. [1-4] In fact, 20% of the Raphael, et al, pain sample showed no bruxism. Lavigne lists among his finest work the discovery that sleep bruxism begins from an open mouth position with the action of the depressors. [5] This is not an “occlusal” problem beyond tooth wear, should the patient so decide. 

That being said, the nature of the pain is such, particularly as it relates to headache, that keeping the posterior teeth apart with an appliance can prevent headache. As Mahan and Alling pointed out in their text [6], we have known that since 1960. [7] 

Sessle, Dubner and colleagues have shown repeatedly that the pain of chronic M/TMD is not inflammatory. [8] Masticatory muscles are fatigue resistant over time, [9, 10] and the excess substance found is glutamate, not hydrogen ions from lactic acid in chronic craniofacial muscle pain. [11] 

The blog post of April 25 is not supported by the current science. 

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How Does the Occlusal Plane Relate to the Anterior Teeth?

One of the most common mistakes I see in occlusal restorations is also the easiest mistake to observe. It is interference of the posterior teeth with the anterior guidance. A perfected occlusion allows the anterior teeth to contact in centric relation simultaneously, and with equal intensity with the posterior teeth. This harmony of contacts occurs with complete seating of the condyles at their most superior position, which is bone braced. This means that there is an ideal distribution of compressive contact starting at the TMJs, and continuing all the way through front tooth contact. This is the contact distribution that we want for centric relation.

When the jaw moves from centric relation, in a perfected occlusion only the anterior teeth contact. All posterior teeth distal to the cuspids should immediately separate. This is called "posterior disclusion". Separation of the posterior teeth should occur, whether the jaw moves forward or left or right from centric relation.

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From the Inbox of Dr. Peter Dawson

Dr. Dawson receives emails and letters from clinicians all over the world asking questions and looking for clarification on all matters of Functional Occlusion and challenges in dentistry. 

From: A Dentist in Canada
Subject: Long Centric

Explanation of "Long Centric"

Assumption: Dawson centric relation is valid beyond a shadow of a doubt.  My 37 years of successful clinical experience validates the truth of this assumption. 

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Effects of Disharmony Between the TMJs and Occlusion

If I were writing the curriculum for a four-year dental education, I would start in the freshman year by asking the question, "How does disharmony between the TMJ's and the occlusion cause harm?"  I would then tell every student that this question will be a dominant centerpiece for their dental education.  I would let them know that during their four years, they will be expected to understand the answer to this question so clearly that when they start practice they will be at a tremendous advantage over more than 90% of the "usual and customary" dentists. 

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Why Understanding Occlusion is Essential to Quality Dental Care

It is not possible to be a "complete" dentist without a comprehensive understanding of occlusion. Occlusion is the foundation for everything a dentist does that involves teeth. A thorough knowledge of occlusion is the basis for understanding why teeth get loose, why they wear excessively, break cusps, fracture restorations, or shift position. Occlusal disharmony is a primary consideration when dealing with sore teeth, sore muscles, and orofacial pain, including a high percentage of chronic tension headaches.

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Questions & Answers on Dental Occlusion

Drs. Dawson and Wilderman continue a previous discussion on the Whitepaper, "Why Front Teeth Don't Hit First in CR." To see this previous discussion click here.

Dr. Wilderman: 

If the teeth are part of the mandible , and the mandible is one bone, don't the teeth and bone have to move in the same direction? If the condyle moves downward and backward, wouldn't the teeth have to separate during this movement as they would also be moving downward and backward? If the teeth are biting into the leaf gauge with their own closing muscle power, and the power is applied from behind the teeth, these two things seem to be mutually impossible to occur at the same time. Otherwise you are saying that the mandible can pivot with the teeth as the fulcrum.

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Why Dental Wear is Commonly Ignored

In a restorative practice there often is a large percentage of patients that require complex reconstructive dentistry because of advanced attritional wear. The reality is that most of those patients could have prevented the destruction of their occlusal surfaces if their dentist had been aware of the causes of wear and were observant of early signs when further progressive damage could have been prevented. Yes... attritional wear is almost always preventable.
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