Gnatology (from ancient Greek= jaw and Logos=word, discourse) is a branch of dentistry which studies the nervous system’s response to stimuli coming from mandibular districts and also investigates how muscles, joints, and the tongue work.
Teeth play an important role in mandibular posture. Over the last twenty years, this discipline has gained centre-stage, even though it has been practised for over a century. The reason for the current interest in gnatology derives from the fact that mandibular abnormal behaviours are at the heart of abnormal posturing and of a series of posturing-related pathologies, as neurophysiological research has demonstrated. Although there are different theoretical approaches to gnatology and different practical applications, generally, every school aims at individuating the correct relationship between the mandible and the skull– that is, the correct physiological and orthopaedic relationship between the mandible and the maxilla– to preserve such a relationship when dental procedures are performed, and to restore it when it has been altered resulting in muscular pain.Determining the correct functioning of the mandibular and the maxillary apparatus is fundamental for a correct diagnosis, for planning appropriate treatments and for detecting postural disorders caused by the functional alteration of the stomagnatic system.
When dental procedures are carried out, the ordinary functioning of the complex and sophisticated stomatic system and the relay and response of information are altered.
Even a simple filling, if too big, can interfere with, and alter, the correct functioning of the stomatosystem. It is crucial to determine the correct mandibulary/maxillary relationship in order to preserve it when inlays, crowns or bridges are inserted.
Restoring the integrity of the mouth depends on time, that is, on how long an incorrect functioning has been occurring, on the quality and quantity of the forced adaptation of the neuromuscular system to perform its functions with a minimum energy expenditure and, finally, on the extent of the damage caused by the dysfunction.
The successful restoration of the mandibulary and the maxillary functions in such patients entails restoring the correct functioning of their muscular and neurological systems and liberating them from painkillers dependency.
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