Industry-leading expert in Computerized Dental Occlusal Analysis, Dr. Robert B. Kerstein, shares his research on the T-Scan system and just how much clinical practice has transformed with its implementation.

How Has Digital Occlusal Analysis Revolutionized Dental Medicine? Hear From Expert Dr. Robert B. Kerstein

By Anne Long on Jul 17, 2019
Following the release of his first best-selling publication, The Handbook of Research on Computerized Occlusal Analysis Technology Applications in Dental Medicine, edited by Dr. Robert B. Kerstein from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine & Private Dental Practice Limited to Prosthodontics, USA, this research has served to revolutionize the dental industry. Since 1984, computerized occlusal analysis technology has revolutionized both dental occlusal science and daily clinical practice, while also providing solutions to the regularly observed and frequently encountered occlusal problems that practicing dental clinicians face. To further illuminate the impact of this research on the dental medical community, industry expert and editor of the recently released, highly anticipated title the Handbook of Research of Computerized Occlusal Analysis Applications in Dental Medicine (Vol. 3), Dr. Kerstein shares his thoughts on this cutting-edge research in this IGI Global interview.

What inspired you to pursue research activities in your area of expertise?

When I was a graduate student in 1984 at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, USA, the first T-Scan was built (The T-Scan I Computerized Occlusal Analysis System). Up to this point in dental science evolution, there were no measured occlusal function force and timing data sets available to practicing dentists. As I began to use T-Scan I, it was clear that it was far better in assessing patient problems than were articulating paper, wax, and silicone tooth imprints, which were the standards at the time. The T-Scan I computer technology opened up a new area in occlusal diagnosis, and inspired me to develop time and force-based occlusal adjustment procedures, that studies published since 1991 have proven, can statistically improve occlusal function and masticatory muscle physiology

As an expert within your research field, what would you say you have learned so far?

As an expert in the field of Computerized Occlusal Analysis, I have come to understand many things “Occlusal” that were not clear to the dental profession prior to the development of the T-Scan technology. The most important thing I’ve learned from using the T-Scan is that by measuring the occlusion and treating the tooth contacts precisely, with known occlusal force levels, timing sequence durations, pressure mapping, force percentage per tooth, and other key T-Scan software features, it is possible to treat many more occlusal maladies than is possible when dentists practice without this technology. The T-Scan has brought measurement and objectivity to Dental Occlusion, which has greatly improved on the highly subjective patient care standard that exists in Occlusion.

What would you say was the most surprising discovery while conducting your research?

The most surprising discovery I made with T-Scan I is what’s known as Posterior Disclusion Time. The T-Scan I could record and measure tooth contact time-duration sequences, and be played back for analysis in a dynamic video format. Discovering the Disclusion Time was very significant because Long Posterior Disclusion Time causes direct patient jaw and head muscular hyperfunction. Studies have repeatedly shown that his high muscle firing caused by posterior excursive tooth contact, overloads and breaks teeth, leads to gum recession, incites frequent temporal headaches, jaw pain, and many muscular TMD symptoms, while also contributing to chewing dysfunction.

Thirty-five years later, Posterior Disclusion Time is still the most important occlusal parameter isolated by the T-Scan technology.

What were the main challenges in conducting your research?

The main challenge of conducting my research was to structure studies that would prove the value of measuring the occlusion with T-Scan data sets, while addressing the ongoing T-Scan accuracy and reliability concerns that the dental research community perceived came with using the T-Scan. These concerns however were unfounded, in that the T-Scan was shown in multiple studies to be far more accurate, repeatable, precise, and dramatically more minimally invasive for patients, than are the traditional, highly subjective occlusal diagnostic methods dentists routinely employ. Many studies later, it is clear that measuring and treating the occlusion with the highly repeatable and accurate T-Scan data, is in the best interests of dental patients.

What are some of the benefits of your research to its community of users?

There are many patient benefits of T-Scan-based research that have consistently been observed in study findings. These benefits have been validated as being predictable outcomes when the T-Scan is properly employed, and computer-guided occlusal adjustments have been properly performed, such as minimally invasive patient treatment, reduced chronic TMD muscular symptomatology and treatment times, markedly lessened splint dependency, reduced medication usage and dependency, reduced frequency and intensity of pain and cold tooth sensitivity, and more.

There are also many dentist-user benefits the T-Scan brings to daily dental practice:

  • Quantifiable time-sequencing and force-mapping shows a dentist the patient’s true occlusal status
  • Precise, targeted occlusal adjustments are performed based on objective, reliable data (absent of subjectivity)
  • Increased accuracy and clinical results are predictably obtained during occlusal adjustments
  • Reduced number of follow-up appointments after prosthetic insertions
  • Increased practice cost savings related to fewer material and prosthetic breakages and replacements

Why are your respective areas of research important to the field at large?

All T-Scan related areas of research are important to Dental Medicine at large, because measured occlusal force management has applications in every dental discipline. Studies repeatedly show that Orthodontics, Prosthodontics, Implant Prosthodontics, Complete Denture Prosthodontics, Adhesive and Aesthetic dentistry, Dental Occlusal Science, Dental Occlusal diagnosis, Temporomandibular Disorders (TMD), Endodontics, and Periodontics are all fields in which T-Scan research findings can be applied in treating patients.

How does your research differ from others in terms of innovation within the field?

My research is innovative and quite different from others in the same field because most Occlusal Science researchers have chosen to not utilize T-Scan data sets in their research. As such, when these researchers assessed the dental occlusion, they lacked the capability to measure occlusal function in any quantifiable way, and could not know what occlusal problems they were studying, or attempting to treat.

In contrast, my research utilized numbers, percentages, pressure mapping distribution, time-durations, and technologically derived data sets, which then were subjected to appropriate statistical analyses. Utilizing hard data and metrics is the biggest difference between all my published research, and that of most Occlusion research.

What were your main expectations for the outcome of your publication and how were they achieved?

My main expectations for the outcome of the upcoming 2nd version of the Handbook, is that this compilation will further educate the dental profession as to the many research-supported clinical applications that the T-Scan technology offers daily dental practice. My goal is to educate as many dentists as possible, that there’s a measured, precise, and accurate way to treat occlusal problems, that greatly improves the quality of their patients’ lives. To achieve this goal, the 2nd version of the Handbook covers every discipline in occlusal dental practice, while also discussing additional digital occlusal technologies that complement the T-Scan, and assist the dentist with making a metric-based, reliable occlusal diagnosis. What has your experience been like publishing with IGI Global? I’ve had very excellent experiences both times that I’ve worked with IGI Global during the publishing of my two T-Scan Research Handbooks (1st Publication in 2015; 2nd Publication in 2019). The IGI Global administrative staff has always been very helpful, and the editorial and proofing team has always been willing to revise the content as needed for correctness. The actual publishing process itself has gone very smoothly, and I’ve had great support from IGI Global in promoting the Handbooks to the academic community. I would definitely recommend to anyone who’s trying to publish a book of scientific substance, to consider publishing with IGI Global.
IGI Global would like to thank Dr. Kerstein for sharing his research on digital dental occlusal analysis and T-Scan technology. Additionally, for more information about this research, publication, and technology, view the Handbook's brochure and view the recent IGI Global Case Study.
About Dr. Robert B. Kerstein: Dr. Kerstein received his D.M.D. degree in 1983, and his Prosthodontic certificate in 1985, both from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. From 1985–1998, he maintained an active appointment at Tufts as a clinical professor teaching fixed and removable prosthodontics in the Department of Restorative Dentistry. In 1984, Dr. Kerstein began studying the original T Scan I technology, and has since that time, also studied the T-Scan II, the T-Scan III with Turbo Recording, the T-Scan 8 technology, the T-Scan 9 technology, and the present day version, T-Scan 10. He has conducted original research regarding the role that occlusion and lengthy Disclusion Time plays in the etiology of chronic occlusal-muscle dysfunction, and is recognized as the leading author and researcher in the field of Computerized Occlusal Analysis. He has published over forty-five peer reviewed publications and authored four textbook chapters that highlighted the T-Scan computerized occlusal analysis technology. He maintained a successful private practice in Boston, Massachusetts, that was limited to prosthodontics, computerized occlusal analysis, and occlusal-muscle dysfunction.
Dr. Kerstein’s publication, Handbook of Research of Computerized Occlusal Analysis Applications in Dental Medicine (Vol. 3), is available through IGI Global’s Online Bookstore and world-renowned InfoSci®-Books, a database of 5,300+ reference books with over 100,000 full-text chapters focusing on emerging research.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of IGI Global.
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