Dr. William H. Douglas, Dr. Ralph DeLong, Mr. Jon Dalrymple, and Mr. Neil Peterson (MTS) worked together to design a system that could simulate the mechanics of chewing and provide the environmental conditions that are found in the human mouth. Utilizing servo-hydraulics, this artificial mouth technology was to be used for materials assessment in the laboratory. The development of this Advanced Artificial Oral Environment (generally called A.R.T., for Artificial Resynthesis Technology) was supported by a grant from MTS and a later grant from the National Institute of Dental Research (RO1DE06762, The Development of an Advanced Artificial Mouth, 1984-1987).
As the name indicates, ART resynthesizes or replicates that part of the chewing cycle in which wear occurs between teeth. In the human chewing cycle, the teeth come together with the lower arch offset to one side from the upper arch. As the lower arch slides into central alignment with the upper arch, the force between the teeth rises from zero to about three pounds and back to zero again. This part of the chewing cycle usually takes about a quarter of a second. Researchers estimate the average person goes through this functional cycle about 300,000 times in a year. Running continuously, ART can complete these 300,000 cycles in less than a day.
Scientists are constantly searching for new restorative dental materials and they want to know the properties of these materials. Testing the new materials in human volunteers would require safety approval and force scientists to wait a year before knowing even the early wear properties of these materials. And because every person chews in a slightly different way, data from many volunteers would need to be averaged to get meaningful results. But ART chews every test material in the same way and gives valid results with only a few trials and in a few days.