Gerstner Lab

The University of Michigan School of Dentistry




The Gerstner Lab's research has a clinical and a basic science focus. The clinical component involves clinical studies of sleep bruxism.

The basic science component has two foci:

  1. Comparative masticatory studies. Mammalian chewing is wonderfully diverse in kinematic form both within and between species; however, the chewing rhythm is surprisingly invariant in mammals. The lab strives to understand how and why mammalian brains produce the diversity of kinematic forms in conjunction with relatively invariant rhythms. Presently, we are involved in a multi-year NSF-funded project on cross-species comparative kinematic studies. XROMM and functional data analysis (FDA) are used to address these issues.
  2. Tooth wear, fecundity and longevity. Tooth wear in mammals is a natural consequence of use; however, excessive tooth wear is associated with reduced fecundity and longevity in some species. Some species have evolved continuously growing teeth (hypsolodonty) to reduce the impact of tooth wear on fitness; however, most species have not. Indeed, most mammals possess only two sets of teeth (“baby” and “adult” teeth), whereas other toothed vertebrates often get several, even hundreds of sets. This is all the more peculiar, given that mammals eat substantially more than non-homeothermic vertebrates. The lab is interested in field studies to identify the significance of tooth wear on fitness.


Quantifying, analyzing and understanding the diversity of mammalian chewing kinematic forms in conjunction with relatively invariant chewing rhythms. Presently, we are addressing these issues through comparative studies using functional data analysis. Studies also focus on morphometric analyses of mammalian dentoskeletal specimens, scaling studies of chewing rhythmicity, kinematic analysis of chewing. Some of our clinical research is geared towards creating technologies that will be useful for addressing both clinical and field biology lines of query.


geoffrey gerstner

Geoffrey Gerstner, DDS, MS, PhD
Associate Professor | 734-647-3069

Dr. Gerstner holds a BS in Zoology from BYU, where he became interested in animal behavior and mammalogy as a pre-dental student. After graduating, he enrolled in a dual degree program at UCLA where he continued animal behavior studies in an MS program while obtaining a DDS degree. As an MS student, he studied motor control in a guinea pig model of tardive dyskinesia and became interested in the nature of time and temporality in motor behavior. After completing the DDS and MS, he pursued further graduate training through an individual NIH Dentist Scientist Award. He studied chronic pain management as the clinical component of this training and as the research component, he obtained a PhD in Neuroscience, during which time he did comparative behavior studies of six mammalian species at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo and Phoenix Zoo. His research focuses on mammalian oral motor behavior. He teaches coruses on orofacial function, temporomandibular disorders and obstructive sleep apnea to pre- and post-doctoral students. He recently became a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, and has a practice limited to obstructive sleep apnea in the dental school.


View the complete listing of publications.


Gerstner Lab
University of Michigan School of Dentistry
1011 N University Ave,
Room K1027
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (734) 647-3069