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February 28, 2018

Fundamentals of Occlusion: Diagnosing and Treating Occlusal Pathology

By Scott Cairns, DDS
Commercial Supporter: PDS University — Institute of Dentistry

The fundamental concepts of applying occlusion to practice involve the ability to identify common occlusion problems, accurately and thoroughly examine the occlusion as well as the temporomandibular (TMJ), and treat patients who are having pain. Patients experiencing muscle pain can be treated with a full or partial coverage flat-plane appliance. Knowing when and when not to use specific appliances is valuable. This article explores the methodology for approaching the separate aspects of occlusion and incorporating them in practice.


  • Discuss the clinical differences between centric occlusion and centric relation, especially as they apply to application of occlusal techniques.

  • Describe the steps required to carry out a thorough patient examination with considerations of occlusion and the temporomandibular joint.

  • Identify common occlusal problems and treatment of patient muscle pain using a single appliance.

About the Author

Scott Cairns, DDS, Private Practice, Fountain, Colorado, Pueblo, Colorado

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