Background: The search for the ideal, healthy and reproducible position of the condyles is of utmost importance for dental diagnosis and treatment. Thus, the objective of this laboratory cross-sectional study was to verify the relationship between the posterior joint space and the mandibular lateral movements.
Material and methods: Dental casts from 15 women and 15 men with normal mastication, 28 natural teeth and no history of temporomandibular disorders or pain, were fabricated and mounted on a fully adjustable articulator. From the maximum intercuspal position, condylar displacement was evaluated and measured on the working and nonworking sides during mandibular lateral movement, both to the right and left sides.
Results: The correlation between the measures of interest was assessed with the Pearson correlation coefficient (α=.05). Condylar displacement on the working side and nonworking side condyle was 0.88±0.71 mm and 3.57±1.11 mm (right mandibular lateral movement); and 0.91±0.58 mm and 3.51±0.78mm (left mandibular lateral movement), respectively. No significant correlation in the condylar displacement between the working side condyles on the right and on the left sides was observed (r=.22; P=.248). The condylar poles of the articulator moved posteriorly, simulating the functional movements of the mandible during mastication. In all cases, condylar displacement during mandibular lateral movement both to the right and left occurred posteriorly on the working side condyle.
Conclusions: The condylar poles of the articulator moved posteriorly simulating the functional movements of the mandible during mastication. Moreover, left and right working condyles may require slightly different spaces to function, suggesting minor anatomical asymmetries. Key words:Mastication, dental occlusion, prosthodontics.