COMPLETE

DENTURES

LAWS

OF ARTICULATION

VINCENT TRAPOZZANO, R. D.D.S.
St. Petersburg, Fla.
HE OBJECTIVES of this discussion will be to analyze and reappraise Hanau’s five “factors of articulation” as they apply to complete denture construction and to establish that only three “factors” are actually concerned in obtaining a balanced articulation. I believe that the lack of clarity in the exposition of the factors involved in the “laws of articulation” has hindered a more widespread understanding of balanced occlusion and how it may be obtained. For more than 30 years, the factors governing the laws of articulation as stated by Rudolph Hanaul have been accepted as the standard reference on this subject. Hanau’s study was a pioneer exploration of the subject, and the “articulation quint” may well be classified as a monument to him as an individual. Perpetuation of his ideas and basic concepts may, in some measure, be attributed to the phenomenal acceptance of the instrument which he constructed. I have, however, felt that some of the hypotheses stated by Hanau in regard to the laws of articulation may be seriously questioned on the basis of fundamental application. The possibility of error and the placement of undue emphasis on certain factors by Hanau in stating his laws should not be surprising. Hanau was an engineer and could not have been expected to be particularly well versed in the biologic requirements which would modify the engineering (mechanical) requirements. When Hanau speaks of a “balanced articulation,” I assume that he means the same as was stated by Stansbery and the same as it is defined in the GEOSSWY of Prosthodontic Ternzs.2 Stansbery stated3 : “Balanced occlusion involves a definite arrangement of tooth contacts in harmony with mandibular movement.” The Glossary defines balanced articulation (occlusion) as : “an occlusion of the teeth which presents a harmonious relation of the occluding surfaces in centric and eccentric positions within the functional range.“*

T

Read before the Academy of Denture *Italics mine.

Prosthetics 34

in Colorado Springs, Cola.

CONDYLAR INCLINATION Hanau states : “The inclination of the condylar guidance or condyle inclination is a definite.1 guidance and the cusp height. no increase or decrease of the inclination can be effected by the operator. incisal guide. the condylar inclination is one of the three most important and necessary factors utilized in securing balanced articulation and forms one of the end-controlling factors (Fig.” For the purpose of discussion and more ready understanding. “The above terms imply the properties of condylar inclination. It is the one factor which the edentulous patient presents and can in no way be modified by the operator (either dentist or technician). Once the condylar inclination has been registered by whatever means are deemed acceptable. It is my belief that the degree of condylar inclination registered results from (1) the shape of the bony contour of the temporomandibular joint. Precise agreement as to how the registration is obtained is not necessary for this discussion. (2) the prominence of the compensating curve. the five factors will be evaluated in a sequence different from that which was indicated by Hanau. the effect of the displacement of the tissues upon which these bases rest during the making of the registration will modify the recording. however.which requires that registration bases rest on the tissues of the mandibular and/or the maxillary ridges. and (4) the method used. and projection of the cusp height. which are familiar anatomical conceptions and for which we at times prefer to use the geometrical or mechanical equivalents : condylar inclination.” It will be noted from the latter statement that the third factor.” With this statement there is ready accord. l Hanau: “The term reaIeff And Like EFFect. incisa. anatomical conception. Hanau aptly refers to this tissue displacement as “realeff.LAWS OF ARTICULATION 35 LAWS OF ARTICULATION Of the nine factors4 governing the establishment of balanced articulation. i.“* Of the five factors governing the laws of articulation as given to us by Hanau. (4) inclination of the incisal guidance. (2) the action of the muscles attaching to the mandible. curve of Spee. “the inclination of the plane of orientation. be open for discussion.” factor is formed by the inclination of the incisal Is coined by contracting the beginnings of the words REsilient . (5) the height of the cusps. Hanau stated that “the five most important in the practice of natural and artificial denture restorations are : (1) the inclination of the condylar guidance.” He went on to say. 1) . (3) the limitation of movements effected by the attaching ligaments. if the registration is made by means of a technique . compensating curve.” is not mentioned. (3) inclination of the plane of orientation..e. The interrelationship of the function of the anatomic parts in making the registration of the condylar inclination may. INCISAL GUIDANCE The second end-controlling guide angle (incisal guidance). This point will be discussed later under the heading “plane of orientation.

the incisal guide angle is “the angle formed with the horizontal plane by drawing a line in the sagittal plane between incisal edges of the maxillary and Fig. Assuming that Hanau referred to the lingual surface of the maxillary incisors. Pros.36 TRAPOZZANO J.” This statement is incorrect and meaningless. While Hanau distinguishes “a protrusive and lateral incisal guidance. the difference between sagittal protrusive incisal guidance and lateral incisal guidance must be made clear. 1963 Fig. Den. A represents the overbite the resultant (vertiincisal .-Feb. showing two central incisors indicating (horizontal overlap) (C).-The conclylar path (sagittal) is attained when the mandible moves from position C of the condylar path of a patient. Hanau stated : “The inclination of the incisal guidance is given by the angle of the lingual surface of the incisors with the horizontal plane of reference..” he makes no attempt to amplify this distinction. In referring to the “lingual surface of the incisors with the horizontal plane. Jan.-A schematic drawing caI overlap) (B) and the overjet guide angle.-As stated in the Glossary of Prosthodontic Terms. However. the statement would be true only r&en the incisal edge and/or some part of the labial surfaces of the mandibular incisors were in contact with the lingual surfaces or incisal edges of the maxillary incisors. 2.” we are not told whether he means the lingual surface of the maxillary or mandibular incisors. I. Sagittal Protrusive Incisal Guidance. (A*) an equivato position B: (A) diagramatic representation lent path indicated on the articulator.

the reverse procedure may be used. (2) arch shape. 3). In complete denture construction. as defined by the Glossary. for example. the incisal guide angle can be altered considerably. the incisal guide angle may be altered by the simple expedient of increasing or decreasing the degree of overjet (horizontal overlap). The fncisal guide angle for E would be ccmsidered to be zero degrees.--A through F. or (5) the fact that in sagittal protrusive movement. if the degree of overbite (vertical overlap) remains constant. (4) interridge space. the overjet is made to remain constant and the incisal guide angle increased or decreased by changing the amount of overbite (Fig. the angle of the incisal guidance is largely under the control of the dentist. 3. . For example. Lateral In&al Guidance.x?li%z ‘: LAWS OF ARTICULATION 37 mandibular central incisors when the teeth are in centric occlusion” (Fig. and (5) the phonetic and esthetic requirements of the patient. Within the range of these limitations. This may be readily accomplished either by placing the mandibular incisors more lingually or by placing the maxillary incisors more labially. Or. (3) ridge fullness.-While the determination of the protrusive incisal guide angle may be made by considering the relationship of only the maxillary Fig. Thus. The limitations imposed in the selection of an incisal guide angle are (1) ridge relation. 4). The definition offered by the Glossary clearly states the landmarks to be considered in determining the sagittal protrusive incisal guide angle. or both. (4) the incisal edge of the maxillary incisor making contact with the incisal edge of the mandibular incisor when the overjet (horizontal overlap) is within the functional protrusive range of the patient. the sagittal protrusive incisal guide angle could be formed by (1) the labial incisal edge of the mandibular central incisors making contact with the lingual surface of the maxillary central incisors. the incisal edges of the maxillary and mandibular central incisors are never involved in the determination of the sagittal protrusive incisal guide angle when the mandibular central incisors are set anteriorly to the maxillary central incisors (Fig. (2) the labial surface of the mandibular central incisors making contact with the lingual surface of the maxillary central incisors. 2). (3) the lingual incisal edge of the maxillary central incisor making contact with the labial surface of the mandibular incisor. Examples of incisal guide angles which result from varying the vertical and horizontal overlap.

-Setting of the in&al guide angle of the teeth (A) to correspond guide angle of the table (B) of the articulator. intermediate mandibular positions between protrusive movement on a straight sagittal plane and the “pure” lateral movement will be omitted.” As an auxiliary magnitude. Angle a corresponds to angle b. Den. However. Hanau states : “In the estab- . cusp height should hardly be classified as one of the five most important factors in developing the laws of articulation. both maxillary and mandibular. 4. 3. incisal and mandibular central incisors. The moment the incisal guide angle has been determined. HEIGHT OF THE CUSP Hanau’s use of the height of the cusp of the posterior teeth as one of the five factors in developing the laws of articulation is misleading and has lead to much misunderstanding. this angle may be formed by the relationship of the incisal edges of the maxillary and mandibular lateral incisors and the cuspids. For the purpose of this discussion. For the sake of simplicity. 1963 Fig. The lateral incisal guide angle may be defined as the steepest angle formed with the horizontal plane by drawing a line between the incisal edges of the maxillary and mandibular incisors and cuspids of both the right and left segments when the teeth are in centric occlusion. In determining the lateral incisal guide angle. the second end-controlling factor will have been established. even when the mandibular teeth are labial to the maxillary anterior teeth (Fig.. with the.-Feb. the same general pattern of maxillary and mandibular incisor and cuspid relation may exist. Pros. as has been illustrated for the sagittal protrusive incisal guide angle where only the maxillary and mandibular central incisors were involved. Jan. he states : “The change of the cusp height in comparison with the masticatory surface formation as a whole is an auxiliary magnitude. in the lateral incisal guidance. E).38 TRAPOZZANO J. In his description of the height of the cusp. the lateral incisal guide angle is determined by considering the relationship of all the incisors and cuspids. In continuing the description. only “pure” right and left lateral movements will be considered.

and therefore. PLANE OF ORIENTATION Hanau is somewhat vague in discussing the plane of orientation and is needlessly complicating in considering it as a factor in promulgating the laws of articulation. It is a plane assumed to pass through three dental landmarks or points.” Hanau states that “the plane of orientation is a purely geometrical factor. . With the establishment of the two end-controlling factors. The plane may be through the maxillary or mandibular points. namely. The use of the term “plane of orientation” may be questioned. the condylar inclination and the incisal guide angle. As indicated in Fig. In obtaining balanced articulation. Fig. any increase or decrease in cusp height (the vertical distance from the tip of the cusp to its base) will result in an increase or decrease in the length of the cusp inclines. cA A x C’ za X’ B d. .” The second molar is considered to be the last molar in artificial dentures.” It is this last statement which is of importance in establishing balanced articulation. the longer the effective tooth incline. Quite the contrary is true. Cusp angle is the third and last factor which needs to be considered in establishing a balanced articulation. 5. . the length of the cusp inclines (and therefore the range of contact) should be sufficient to permit the teeth to maintain contact within the limits of the eccentric functional movements of the patient.” and since this relationship has to be determined. 5.z%zr :” LAWS OF ARTICULATION 39 lishment of balanced articulation. The height of cusp B is indicated by X1. the central incisal contact point and the suvnmits of the mesiobuccal cusps of the molars. The height of cusp A is indicated by X. Diagrammatic representation of tooth cusps with the same cuspal angulation (C and Cl). however. The angle of the cuspal inclination will not. be affected by a change in the cusp height. a balanced articulation is obtained when a harmonious relationship is established between these two angles and the cusp angle. This harmonious relationship is obtained independently of cusp height. the greater the range of tooth contact during eccentric movement. concern is with the inclination of the effective cusp inclines. From a practical standpoint. Cusp height exerts its influence by determining the range of tooth contact during eccentric movement.-A and B. The term orient means “to find the proper relation or bearings of . the more valid way of expressing the idea would be to say “orientation of the plane. we are primarily interested in the length and the inclination of the effective cusp inclines. The higher the cusp. The implication in the use of this term is that this factor has already been determined. . namely.

Cords constructed on arc 1 which would have the same anteroposterior length as the first and second bicuspids and the first and second molars would result in a steeper inclination than the corresponding cords constructed on arc 2.” Hanau’s quint indicates that an increase in the inclination of the plane of orientation results in an increase of the incisal guide angle and condylar inclination.. Jan. A change of height in the mounting of the cast when a face-bow transfer is used will not alter the relation of the cast to the condylar inclination. but with a corresponding influence on cuspal angulation necessary to obtain a balanced articulation (Fig. Frequently. Actually. Note that if perpendiculars are constructed at the incisal guide (C) and at the condylar guidance angle (B). I prefer to establish the orientation of the plane of occlusion by the following steps: (1) The maxillary cast is mounted to the maxillary member of the articu- . However. Den. in not all cases can mounting be carried out at the level indicated by Hanau.” the difference in inclination which results from using the various landmarks suggested is of no consequence. that the change made in the height of mounting so that the central incisal contact point of the maxillary incisors is at the same level with the incisal pin marker makes it awkward to work with the resultant cast mounting. the plane of orientation may be established at various levels within the available interridge space. the face-bow transfer will result in a maxillary cast mounting which is extremely . Hanau states that “this plane makes mandibular measurements facile and gives them a definite comparative value . 6).” Theoretically. setting the central incisal contact point of each case at the same distance from the articulator base till establish “definite comparative values for the planes. balanced occlusion may be obtained at either level.” Since Hanau uses the plane “for signifying the general direction of the masticatory surfaces in the denture space available and for the characterization of the compensating curve. since its location is highly variable within the available interridge space. as soon as we mount the central incisal contact point of each case at the same distance from the articulator base. however. Actually. arc 1 results from the shorter radius while arc 2 results from the longer radius.-Feb. stating: “The writer [Hanau] suggests to accept a plane of orientation through the central incisor point and the second molar buccal grooves. Consideration of the steps used by many individuals in the establishment of the plane of orientation may further clarify the point. the plane of orientation need not and should not be considered a factor in promulgating the laws of articulation. without any influence on either the incisal guide angle or the condylar inclination. From the same rotational center (A). It is often found.high or low. Pros. the point at which the two lines intersect (A) will indicate the rotational center.” Unfortunately. once the plane has been selected. Since both arcs have the same rotational center established by the incisal guide angle and the condylar guidance inclination. 1963 The above quotation is at variance with the statement he makes regarding the plane earlier in his treatise.40 TRAPOZZANO J. It is not realistic to insist on a definite height of mounting of the central incisal contact point simply to fulfill a possible theoretic advantage to be gained by giving the plane of orientation “comparative value.

within the interridge space: I and 2 indicate two such planes. of course. This may result in an . (b) arch form. namely. This position will be influenced by the previously established anterior part of the plane of orientation and by the dentist’s decision as to whether the maxillary or mandibular ridge should carry the greater or lesser degree of torque action or whether the torque should be more or less equally divided between the two ridges. it will be recognized that two important steps have been completed. lator by means of a face-bow transfer. the tentative positioning of the posterior part of the plane of orientation is established by giving consideration to the superoinferior positioning of the posterior teeth. As was indicated. (4) ridge fullness. (B) a perpendicular constructed from the condylar inclination guide. and (6) the phonetic and esthetic requirements. (2) The mandibular cast is mounted by whatever type of records are made to register the vertical and centric relations. the composition of the maxillary and mandibular anterior teeth is completed. the Anal level of the occlusal plane may be determined at any level desired. (a) establishment of the anterior part of the plane of orientation and (b) the determination of the amount of overbite and overjet and the resultant protrusive and lateral incisal guide angle (incisal guidance) which. The cuspal angulation of the teeth will. form the two end-controlling factors needed for establishing a balanced articulation for the case at hand. it will be found that the maxillary posterior teeth will have to be lowered considerably.Volume 13 Number 1 LAWS OF ARTICULATION 41 Fig.J A perpendicular constructed from the in&al guide table.4C. (3) After establishment of the cast relationship on the articulator. Neither is it germane whether or not an infraorbital record is used. (A) the point of intersection. together with the condylar inclination. If the mandibular posterior teeth are set too low in relation to the previously established plane of the mandibular anterior teeth. 6. Using A as a center. the placement of the anterior teeth will be modified by (a) ridge relation. Subject to later modification during the balancing of the occlusion. After the anterior teeth have been set. For the purpose of this discussion. it is immaterial whether a transverse hinge axis or arbitrary face-bow transfer is made. be different at each level selected and still satisfy the requirements for balanced articulation. (5) interridge space.

at best. Den. C. THREE FACTORS OF OCCLUSION From the foregoing discussion.A. which forms the other end-controlling factor. In setting up artificial teeth. and (3) the cusp angle (angles of the inclined planes of the teeth). since its determination.42 TRAPOZZANO J. For any given patient. (2) the incisal guide angle. Setting the mandibular posterior teeth too high in relation to the mandibular anterior teeth may also result in an unsightly appearance. Thus. provided the final plane selected is on the same rotational center produced by the two endcontrolling factors. can be considered only as a secondary factor. in proportion to the degree of cuspal angulation utilized.-Related factors for obtaining balanced occlusion (articulation). The triad of . 7. or convexity. 1963 unsightly appearance. saddling therein. establishing the prominence of the “compensating curve” is a passive factor. Hanau states : “The prominence of the compensating curve infers an increase of the concavity (sometimes a decrease of the convexity) in the alignment of the mandibular posterior teeth. which forms one end-controlling factor. the harmonious interrela- LG. once the cuspal angulation which will produce a balanced occlusion has been determined. Pros. From the foregoing. = = = /NC/SAL GUIDANCE CUSP ANGLE CONDYLAR GUIDANCE Fig. and its consideration as a factor in formulating the laws of articulation should be omitted. Final positioning of the posterior plane of orientation may be made at whatever level of interridge space is desired to meet the requirements of the case at hand.” The inclusion of the prominence of the compensating curve as a factor in formulating the laws of articulation is redundant. it has been established that only three factors need be considered to formulate the laws of articulation : ( 1) the condylar inclination. occlusion. PROMINENCE OF THE COMPENSATING CURVE In postulating the “prominence of the compensating curve” as one of the five factors used in developing the laws of articulation. if balanced articulation (occlusion) is to be achieved. The maxillary posterior tooth alignment accommodates the curvature of the mandibular alignment. we are automatically confronted with a compensating curve of varying concavity. I suggest that consideration of the plane of orientation as a factor in establishing the laws of articulation should be omitted.-Feb. CC.. Jan.

or both. The location of the plane of orientation is highly variable within the available ridge space and should not be limited to a standardized height. the condylar guidance. CONCLUSIONS It has been established that only three factors need be considered in formulation of the laws of articulation : (1) the condylar guidance. the formula may be further simplified. and (2) a decrease of the incisal guide angle decreases the cusp angle progressively toward the incisal guide angle. it is no longer subject to change. As was pointed out. Any increase or decrease of the cusp angle must be accompanied by an increase or decrease of the incisal guide angle. The formation of the compensating curve is always the result of the harmonious interplay between the incisal guide angle. Hanau should have emphasized the role played by the inclination of the effective cusp inclines. and (‘2) a decrease of the condylar guide angle decreases the cusp angle progressively toward the condylar guide angle. The following law of articulation (balanced occlusion) may then be stipulated : When condylar guidance equals K-( 1) an increase of the incisal guide angle increases the cusp angle progressively toward the incisal guide angle. and the cuspal angulation. The laws of articulation may then be stated as follows : When the condylar guidance equals a constant (K)-( 1) an incease of the incisal guide angle increases the cusp angle progressively toward the incisal guide angle. It has been shown that the use of the height of the cusp as an active factor in producing a balanced articulation is not correct. and (2) a decrease of the incisal guide angle decreases the cusp angle progressively toward the incisal guide angle. SUMMARY An analysis of the laws of articulation as developed by Hanau indicates the necessity for re-evaluation of his concepts. Any increase or decrease of the cusp angle must be accompanied by an increase or decrease of the incisal guide angle or the condylar guide angle. When the incisal guidance equals a constant (K)-( 1) an increase of the condylar guide angle increases the cusp angle progressively toward the condylar guide angle. The use of the factor plane of orientation is misleading and needlessly complicating. 7) which shows the interrelationship of the three factors when the end-controlling factors may both be varied. The use of the compensating curve as an active factor in the laws of articulation is not necessary or desirable. a formula has been developed (Fig. This in effect makes the condylar guidance factor equal to a constant (K) . CLINICAL APPLICATION In the clinical application of the laws of balanced occlusion. (2) the incisal guide . For the purpose of graphically depicting this relationship. once the condylar inclination of the patient has been determined.~~l%c~ :” LAWS OF ARTICULATION 43 tionship of these three factors will produce a balanced occlusion.

J.A.A. 11. Academy of Denture Prosthetics: Glossary of Prosthodontic Terms. R. 3900 CENTRALAVE. and (3) the cusp angle.-Feb. : Articulation Defined. ed.A. 2. Hanau. A formula has been developed to graphically this relationship. Hanau Engineering Co. p. . 1930.D. 1938. 1963 angle. lO:Nov.D. PROS. L.A.44 TRAPOZZANO J.. REFERENCES depict 1. 4. DEN. 2. J. 1926. Pros.: Balanced Occlusion in Relation to Lost Vertical Dimension. 25:228:233. L. PETERSBURG11. 4. 3. C. J. 1960. Den. Part Two. Jan. Hanau. ST. J. 13:1694-1707.-Dec. Buffalo. ed. Analyzed and Formulated.. Stansbery. R. : Full Denture Prosthesis. FLA.

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