Objectives: To review the dynamic analytical elements used in the functional assessment of the stomatognathic system, summarize the available scientific evidence, and consider interrelations with body posture and cognition.
Method and materials: A thorough literature search was conducted using PubMed, the Cochrane Library database, and Google Scholar. Peer-reviewed articles and literature reviews provided up-to-date information addressing three topics: (a) the available knowledge and recent evidence on the relationship between the morphologic aspects of dental/craniofacial anatomy and oral function/dysfunction, (b) mandibular dynamics, considering mobility, functional activity, and existing methodologies of analysis, and (c) a possible correlation between the stomatognathic system, body posture, and cognition.
Results: Modern dentistry may be regarded as a human adaptation strategy, helping to conserve healthy teeth for much longer without risking overall health. It is futile to treat patients using a mechanistic, sectorial approach that misrepresents patient behavior and requests, just as it is to affirm the absence of any structure-function relationships. However, it is also evident that there is a lack of general consensus on the precise functional assessment of the stomatognathic system, mostly due to the methodologic heterogeneity employed and the high risk of bias. Despite the abundant evidence produced with the aim of providing solid arguments to define dynamic models of functional assessment of the stomatognathic system, it is yet to become highly empirical, based as it is on operator experience in daily clinical practice.
Conclusions: Further efforts from the scientific and clinical community, with the help of progress in technology, remain should this gap be filled and should substantial data on differences between pathologic and physiologic dynamic models of function be provided. Dentistry needs to employ – on a larger scale – objective, dynamic methods of analysis for the functional evaluation of the stomatognathic system, embracing concepts of “personalized medicine” and “interprofessional collaborations.”