J CranioMand Func 2 (2010), No. 2 21. June 2010
The mechanosensors that are located within the periodontal ligament (PDL) are most sensitive to the minimal forces that act upon them when touched without any force1. Accordingly, the moment of occlusal contact is perceived more easily if the patient only touches the occlusal surfaces without putting any load on them. In order to achieve this behavior, patients can be effectively instructed during treatment. They are familiarized with imagining the dental substance as being fragile and not able to take any load, and they are asked to act accordingly. This line of thought only permits a cautious touching of the occlusal surfaces and forbids any masticatory pressure. If the activity of the stomatognathic organ consists in the occlusal surfaces only touching each other, this is not a modification of masticatory activity, but the opposite of masticatory work. Like in other sensorimotor organs, in the stomatognathic organ one has to differentiate between a working strategy, which is supposed to produce an output, and a cognitive strategy, which is supposed to impart a perception. The task of touching the "fragile" tooth surfaces leads to a change of strategy that turns the masticatory organ that does the chewing work into a tactile organ. In restorative dentistry, new occlusal defects can be clearly detected and eliminated by employing a corresponding cognitive strategy. In functional diagnostics, the change of strategy is the basis for a fast and complete reduction of increased muscle tone. As a result, premature contacts can be diagnosed reliably.
Keywords: sensorimotor function, cognitive strategy, working strategy, focused attention, muscle tone reduction, diagnosis of premature contacts