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Anatomy for Dental Students$
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Martin E. Atkinson

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199234462

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199234462.001.0001

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(p.277) 26 Mastication
Anatomy for Dental Students

Martin E. Atkinson

Oxford University Press

Now you have an understanding of the anatomy of the maxilla and mandible, the TMJs, and jaw musculature, we can examine how these structures work together to produce the complex actions involved in the biting and chewing of food. Technically, incision is biting a piece from a larger chunk of food and mastication is the grinding down of that piece into smaller components and mixing them with saliva. Mastication is often used to cover both actions. Box 26.1 briefly compares the anatomy of the human dentition to that of other mammals. As well as knowledge of the TMJ, muscles of mastication, and other muscles used in jaw movements, it is necessary to appreciate some aspects of the static and dynamic relationships of the teeth to understand chewing movements. The first thing to notice is the bigger width of the upper dental arch compared to the lower arch, a condition known as anisognathy. In Figure 26.1A , you can see that the maxillary molars overhang the mandibular teeth by half a cusp width so the buccal cusps of the lower molars and premolars occlude between the buccal and palatal cusps of the maxillary teeth. Observe also that the long axis of the maxillary molars and premolars incline buccally while the corresponding axis of the mandibular teeth incline lingually; the occlusal plane of the posterior teeth is thus curved transversely as illustrated in Figure 26.1A . It would be possible to chew food simply by moving the teeth up and down without any side-to-side movement, but this would be inefficient and not make full use of the cusps on the occlusal surfaces of posterior teeth. However, we can only chew on one side at a time because of the anisognathy of the upper and lower teeth. Due to anisognathic jaw positions, the maxillary anterior teeth are also going to protrude in front of the mandibular anterior teeth. Figure 26.1B illustrates the normal relationships of the anterior teeth. The maxillary incisors overhang the mandibular incisors by about 2–3 mm in the horizontal plane; this is called the overjet. The upper incisors usually have a vertical overhang, the overbite, of about the same amount. As mentioned in Chapter 24, the mouth at rest is closed by tonic contraction of the muscles of mastication and facial expression.

Keywords:   abscesses, bite raisers, closing stroke, distocclusion, freeway space, heterodont dentition, incision, jaw reflexes, mandibular rest position, nasopalatine nerves

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