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A week ago I had the pleasure to attend the XXVII International AIG (Associazione Italiana di Gnatologia) Congress in Torino, Italy. Twentyseven speakers from six countries each had about 30 minutes to present their thoughts about the relationship between occlusion and temporomandibular joint disorders. In general it could be concluded that a stable occlusion would improve the function of the stomatognathic system and thereby reduce the risk for developing or aggravating a temporomandibular joint disorder. It was also underlined in several lectures that gnathology is a team work and that occlusion is one tool in the treatment of a temporomandibular joint disorder.
It was interesting to note that the speakers in general agreed in finding occlusion an important factor in the treatment of a temporomandibular joint disorder, i.e. a complete contradiction to the conclusion of several hundreds of articles and studies proclaiming that when RDC/TMD are used in the evaluation of treatment outcome occlusion is not important and should not get priority or most often not even be considered in the treatment of a temporomandibular joint disorder.

RDC/TMD were discussed and by a great part of the participants even questioned in the final round table discussion of the congress. In my opinion and in agreement with many other clinicians RDC/TMD cannot and should not be used in the clinical situation in which a specific diagnosis is to be the sound base for the treatment. Reliable criteria like maximum mouth opening, mandibular movements, the difference between dynamic and static pain and even the difference between the vertical dimensions of the two temporomandibular joint condyles visible and measurable in a panoramic X-ray exist. Therefore my suggestion to the RDC/TMD supporters is: Next time you conduct a clinical study, why not incorporate the above mentioned criteria! I am pretty convinced that the results will be different regarding the eventual link between occlusion and the temporomandibular joint disorder.

Finally I would delete the ? from the title of this blog and agree with the suggestion from Dr.Eugenio Tanteri that a forum “House of Gnathology” might come to an agreement that a correctly designed and applied occlusion is important in providing  oral stability and thereby reduce the prevalence of temporomandibular joint disorders among our patients.