What is an Articulator and How is it Used in Dentistry?

    What is an Articulator and How is it Used in Dentistry?

    An articulator is a mechanical device that simulates the movement of the lower jaw (mandible) in relation to the upper jaw (maxilla). It is used to mount plaster casts of the teeth and gums of a patient, and to adjust the position and shape of dental prostheses, such as dentures, crowns, bridges, implants, and orthodontic appliances.

    An articulator can reproduce some or all of the movements of the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), which are the hinges that connect the mandible to the skull. These movements include opening and closing the mouth, moving the jaw forward and backward (protrusion and retrusion), and moving the jaw side to side (lateral excursion). By mimicking these movements, an articulator can help the dentist or dental technician to create a functional and comfortable bite for the patient.

    Types of Articulators

    There are different types of articulators, depending on how accurately they can replicate the natural jaw movements. They can be classified into three main categories:

    • Fully-adjustable articulators: These are the most precise and complex articulators, as they can reproduce all the possible dimensions and functional movements of the TMJs. They require a facebow, which is a device that transfers the relationship between the TMJs and the maxilla to the articulator. They also require measurements of various angles and distances between the jaws, which are obtained by using special instruments or devices. Fully-adjustable articulators are necessary for large or complex restorative cases, where a correct occlusion (the way the teeth fit together) is being substantially restored.
    • Semi-adjustable articulators: These are simpler and less costly than fully-adjustable articulators, as they use some fixed values based on averages instead of individual measurements. They may or may not be able to reproduce some of the movements of the TMJs, such as protrusion, lateral excursion, centric shift, immediate side-shift, and retrusion. They may or may not require a facebow. Semi-adjustable articulators are adequate for most cases, especially when only minor adjustments are needed.
    • Non-adjustable articulators: These are the simplest and cheapest articulators, as they do not reproduce any movement of the TMJs. They only hold the casts in a fixed position relative to each other. They do not require a facebow or any measurements. Non-adjustable articulators are suitable for very simple cases, such as single crowns or small fillings.

    Benefits of Using an Articulator

    Types of Articulators

    Using an articulator has several benefits for both the dentist and the patient:

    • It allows for a more accurate fabrication of dental prostheses, as it simulates how they will function in the mouth.
    • It reduces the need for occlusal adjustments before and after fitting dental prostheses, as it ensures a correct interdigitation (fitting together) of the teeth and an anatomically functional biting plane.
    • It improves the comfort and satisfaction of the patient, as it prevents chronic conflicts between the teeth and the jaw joints.
    • It enhances the esthetics and phonetics of dental prostheses, as it allows for a proper alignment and spacing of the teeth.

    An articulator is an essential tool in dentistry that helps to create high-quality dental prostheses that fit well and function properly in the mouth. By using an articulator, dentists and dental technicians can provide better care and service to their patients.

    Hi, I’m Adam Smith

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