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In the history of our office, Gnathology has played a big role. It’s defined as:

“The study of the relationship of the mandibular border movements and occlusal morphology, and how this relationship affects the anatomy, histology, physiology, pathology, and therapeutics of the oral organ, as well as how this relationship affects the rest of the body, including, but not limited to, the TMJ.” (Jack Hockel)

That’s right. My dad defined gnathology – well, at least he re-defined it in 2007. He has studied it for over forty years and is a world-recognized expert on the subject. There’s a lot of confusion on the matter, and he has helped clarify a lot.

Basically, gnathology means getting the bite right. This used to be (and often still is!) the most important thing to a gnathologist, and certain guidelines were followed to make someone’s bite ideal. With our current knowledge of the relationship of the jaws to the respiratory airway, we now know that the concept of an ideal bite has expanded. The jaws and bite must now be formed to allow the best possible airway with which to breathe.

Many years ago… Jack Hockel learned gnathology from Dr. Charlie Stuart (pictured above). Dr. Stuart was one of the brilliant pioneers of gnathology.

And many years ago… Dr. Brian Hockel learned gnathology primarily from Dr. Jack and also from Dr. Stuart (pictured above)



Drs. Jack and Brian, and friend Dr. Darin Ward, used the “Stuart Mandibular Movement Recorder,” to learn about jaw movements.

How your jaw works, how your airway works, and how your teeth fit together – believe it or not, there’s a connection there that matters! If you just make the teeth fit, without consideration of how the jaw or airway function, you might be causing lifelong and far-reaching problems.

When we restore, fill, replace, or move even a single tooth, we are constantly considering how the change will affect the jaw and the airway, and how the movements of the jaw enter in to the equation.

If you are interested in learning more about gnathology, call our office at (925) 934-3434 to schedule your initial consultation with our dentists.

Dr. Brian J. Hockel and the entire team at Life Dental & Orthodontics are proud to serve patients from Walnut Creek, Clayton, and Concord, California, as well as from the greater San Francisco East Bay area and beyond.

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