Declarative knowledge in oral health: The case of the term 'centric occlusion'

Eur J Dent Educ. 2022 Dec 9. doi: 10.1111/eje.12881. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: The lack of academic agreement in the practical or clinical use of declarative knowledge can generate unnecessary confusion and miscommunication. The concept Centric Occlusion (CO) is part of the body of declarative knowledge in dentistry, but its definition remains unclear.

Objective: To ascertain the CO concept in articles published in dental journals as a study case for the dentistry "corpus" of declarative knowledge.

Methodology: The alternative definitions of CO used by the GPT (Glossary of Prosthodontic Terms) from 1956-1977, 'CO as a synonym for maximum intercuspal contact (MIC)', or by the GPT from 1987-2017, 'CO may or may not coincide with MIC', were searched in the articles. The association between the CO definition used and variables such as article aims, journal scope and authors specialty was assessed.

Results: Eight hundred and twelve articles were analysed. The widespread use of CO as synonym of MIC was the main finding and was significantly associated to the Orthodontics field. The CO definition according to the GPT 1987-2017 was less frequently observed but appeared in all dentistry fields, showing a significant association with the Oral Rehabilitation field. The difficulty of incorporating the current definition of CO (by GPT) into the main clinical discussions was evidenced all the long of the review process.

Conclusion: The lack of consensus in the concept use was confirmed by the present study case, showing the influence of specific fields in Oral Health declarative knowledge. This methodology can provide a tool to the academy to assess controversial terms or concepts in Oral Health education, thus facilitating the critical and reflexive learning by students.

Keywords: centric occlusion; declarative knowledge; glossary of prosthodontic terms; oral health terminology.