Occlusion Demystified

I go on a lot of courses and continually invest in learning from the best Dentists in the world.

Most recently, I attended Barry Glassman’s full-day seminar titled ‘Myth busting occlusion for the General Dentist’.

I could now see why his teachings are seen as controversial. He completely goes against what the other Occlusion ‘gurus’ teach us, and what we were taught at Dental school.

The study of occlusion for many people becomes like a cult or a religion. I was wary of this, hence why I like attending as many different schools of thought as possible. I did Stephen Phelan’s Occlusion design course last year, and will be doing the Dawson Academy next year. I have read lots of literature on occlusion as I am a self confessed geek. I am no stranger to the definition and goal of ‘Occlusal Harmony’.

Barry Glassman essentially went against the grain of all these other schools of thought, and I loved every second of his gripping lecture.

It helped me to answer things I have reflected on since dental school:

– Why do some patients with messed up occlusions never get any problems
– Why do some people with ‘ideal occlusions’ get problems?
– Why a poorly made occlusion splint will work for one patient, but a highly engineered splint may not work for a different person?

I would urge anyone to go on one of his courses, but essentially, this is the bottom line:

– Occlusion is not the problem, Occluding is the problem

Nouns don’t hurt people, verbs do.

– It appears that we don’t design occlusions for function, but rather we have been designing them for production.

For example, I try very hard to build in canine guidance and anterior guidance in to a reconstruction. But you have to think, ‘when will the patient go in to canine guidance and in to anterior guidance’?

Answer: ‘When the patient brings their teeth together’

So, when the teeth are not touching, none of that is relevant.

And so lastly…how often/when should we bring our teeth together?

How often do our patients go in to ICP or centric occlusion?

It’s definitely not that we should stop caring about achieving ‘occlusal harmony’ – but realise the core problem which is not occlusion, but occludING.

This was a simplistic summary, but the message is fresh (it was for me, anyway) and thought provoking.

Further reading