Purpose: This study observed occlusal contacts and determined their areas on the
mandibular teeth, especially the molars, during voluntary lateral excursions. Materials
and Methods: Occlusal contact areas were estimated with a measurement system
combining 3-D tracking of mandibular movements with 3-D digitization of tooth shape.
Sixteen women with sound permanent dentitions participated. Results: At the intercuspal
position, estimated occlusal contact areas of the first and second mandibular molars were
on average 12.6 mm2 and 9.0 mm2, respectively. However, after 3.0 mm of lateral
excursion, their areas were sharply reduced to 2.2 mm2 and 1.5 mm2 on the working
side, and 0.4 mm2 and 1.1 mm2 on the nonworking side, respectively. Conclusion: These
results suggest that the occlusal contact areas on working- and nonworking-side molars
differ from each other as lateral excursion proceeds. Int J Prosthodont 2004;17:72–76.