Does the Stomatognathic System Adapt to Changes in Occlusion? Best Evidence Consensus Statement

Charles J. Goodacre, W. Eugene Roberts, Gary Goldstein, Jonathan P. Wiens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this Best Evidence Consensus Statement was to evaluate the existing literature on the stomatognathic system's ability to adapt to occlusal changes. Materials and Methods: The search term stomatognathic system was not useful as it resulted in over 400,000 results nor was the search term temporomandibular joint adaptation with 738 results due to the large number of references not related to the topic. The terms stomatognathic system adaptation to occlusal changes (186 results), teeth flexion (139 results), muscle adaptation to dental occlusion (278 results), and occlusal changes and neuroplasticity (11 results) provided the best selection of articles related to the topic. Limiting the above searches to systematic reviews and randomized controlled clinical trials resulted in multiple publications that were related to the question. Other literature reviews, data-based publications, and expert opinion resources have been included due to their relationship to the question. Results: From the extensive list of search results, 242 articles were determined to be potentially related to the focus question and were evaluated with 56 being included in this paper. It was determined that the stomatognathic system adapts to occlusal changes through the temporomandibular joint, muscles, teeth and bone. The dynamically modified periosteum on the articulator surfaces of the condyle and fossa has a unique load-bearing morphology with 3 subarticular layers of fibrocartilage that absorb and dissipate both peak (impact) and sustained loads. Adaptability of the TMJs and muscles can be documented through studies where artificially produced occlusal interferences were placed in patients and those study participants with normal temporomandibular joints (TMJs) adapted fairly well whereas those with a previous history of temporomandibular disorders (TMD) did not adapt as well. Conclusions: Available evidence indicates patients generally adapt to the occlusal change inherent in orthodontic treatment, mandibular advancement surgery, and the use of mandibular advancement devices. The head and neck muscles also adapt to occlusal changes in patients without a history of TMD. The dentition adapts to changes through the bone and periodontal ligaments as well as the ability of teeth to undergo slight flexion under masticatory loading.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-11
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Prosthodontics
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • bone
  • muscles
  • occlusion
  • Stomatognathic system
  • teeth
  • TMJ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


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