Defining centric relation: The CR Attributes Survey

Jonathan P. Wiens, Gary R. Goldstein, Mark Andrawis, Mijin Choi, Jennifer W. Priebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Statement of problem: Multiple definitions of centric relation (CR) have evolved over time that may have created confusion or impeded understanding. A recent attempt to achieve a singular definition by surveying the members of the Academy of Prosthodontics (AP) did not achieve majority consensus. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify those aspects or attributes within the existing definitions of CR in which there was agreement or disagreement among the members of the AP. Material and methods: After pretesting and institutional review board approval, a second survey of the AP membership was performed using both email and postal mail survey methods of contact. The CR Attributes Survey separated and stratified the previous definitions of CR into 5 domains: spatial relationship, condylar position, articular disks, mandibular movement, and recording. Each domain attribute was evaluated by agree-uncertain-disagree assessments. Also recorded were demographics, perception of scientific evidence, and open comments. Results: Of the total 146 fellows, 100 completed the survey for an overall response rate of 68.5%. The query completion rate ranged from 96% to 98%. The CR Attributes Survey revealed those components within each domain in which there was strong agreement, disagreement, or uncertainty. The survey assessment of those queries with a moderate to strong agreement were that CR is a “spatial relationship” that is (1) a clinically determined relationship of the mandible to the maxilla, (2) a repeatable position, (3) is independent of tooth contact, and (4) is a physiologic position. Relative to “disks,” the condyles articulate with the thinnest avascular intermediate zone of their respective disks; however, there is a lack of sufficient evidence to determine the position of the disks and the condyles. Relative to “mandibular movement,” CR is (1) a starting point for vertical, lateral, or protrusive movements, (2) is where the individual can make to and from lateral movements, and (3) is restricted to pure rotary movement about a transverse horizontal axis. Relative to “recording CR” (1) it can be determined in patients without pain or derangement of the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), (2) but may not be recordable in the presence of dysfunction of the masticatory system, or (3) due to the neuromuscular influence or proprioception from the dentition, (4) is a clinical useful repeatable reference position for mounting casts, or (5) for developing a functional treatment occlusion, (6) at an established vertical dimension, and (7) may vary slightly by recording method. Conclusions: The CR Attributes Survey revealed a majority agreement or consensus for various CR attributes that should be considered for defining the term ‘centric relation.’ In contrast, those CR attributes with a plurality agreement, disagreement, or uncertainty outcomes should be considered for exclusion. The evaluated weakness of these latter attributes indicates the need for further research and reassessment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-122
JournalJournal of Prosthetic Dentistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery


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