I have found it very confusing that in the dental and orthodontic literature, it is often stated that "centric occlusion" (CO) and "maximum intercuspation" (MIC) are synonyms (for example), despite the fact that there is tons of research on the discrepancy between CO and MIC (for example). How can CO and MIC be considered synonyms, and yet also be different (and in fact, the difference between them is of interest to dentists?).

Further adding to my confusion, according to Wikipedia, MIC "used to be referred to as centric occlusion", but there isn't a reference to back up this specific claim.

Could someone 1) clarify appropriate terminology for me, and 2) provide a reference to support the correct terminology?

1 Answer 1


Centric occlusion is an articular position and maximum intercuspation is a dental position.

It suppose that, in a healthy person, both are the same, and that the problems with TMJ arises when there is a discrepancy.

Hence, for a rehabilitation of a total edentulous person, you should rehabilitate with MIC = CO.

Anyway, there is no evidence linking absence of CO in MIC with pathology.

References from the prosthodontics point of view and from orthodontics.

  • This is helpful. To be clear, would you agree that it is sloppy for people to use these terms interchangeably? For example if I am really referring to the "habitual bite" position, would it be correct to call this "maximum intercuspation" because it is a dental position, and not call it "centric occlusion" because the jaw might not be centered in this position? My confusion arises because some papers seem to use the terms interchangeably, or use the term "centric occlusion" when it seems like maximum intercuspation is more appropriate.
    – SlowLoris
    Feb 28, 2017 at 11:09
  • 1
    agreed, since are not interchageable. Hence CO = MIC + both mandibular condyle in the upper and forward position in the fossa with the disk between both surfaces. If you found the answer useful click on answered or useful.
    – sue
    Mar 2, 2017 at 14:58

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