RESD 516

Introduction to Occlusion

J. Wataha

3 credits/ Quarter 2 (Winter, First Year).

Course Description

This lecture-preclinical laboratory course introduces first-year dental students to the occlusion of permanent teeth. In the didactic portion of the course, students learn how maxillary and mandibular teeth contact and function in health and disease. In the preclinical lab, students apply didactic principles to patient cases to critically analyze occlusal problems and plan strategies for an ‘occlusal solution’.  In addition, the preclinical exercises improve students’ depth of understanding of didactic occlusal concepts, teach details of tooth anatomy, expand motor skills developed in ResD 515, develop finer perceptual skills, and learn to candidly and accurately self-assess their work.

Educational Objectives

The broad objectives of this course are to:

1) understand how teeth contact in maximal intercuspal position (MIP) and how this position differs from centric occlusion (CO);

2) Describe and interpret the envelopes of mandibular motion in the sagittal, frontal, and occlusal planes and understand why these envelopes have the shapes they have in health and disease;

3) understand and interpret how maxillary and mandibular teeth move relative to one another and contact during excursive movements of the mandible;

4) understand how excursive movements are influenced by the teeth, mandibular condyles, muscles of mastication, and temporomandibular joint anatomy;

5) Understand how articulators are used to approximate occlusal function and the strengths and weaknesses of different types of articulators;

6) Develop sufficient motor skill to apply the principles of occlusal function in constructing appropriately contoured wax replicas of permanent teeth with correct occlusal function;

7) Develop the ability to accurately self-assess the quality of their work.

8) Develop critical thinking skills that allow integration of clinical information to interpret patient conditions and offer treatment solutions with regard to occlusal health and disease.

Course Outline

Lecture topics include: fabrication of master case models, articulator use and function, contacts in MIP and CO, temporomandibular joint function, mandibular excursive movements, mandibular envelopes of movement, and how anatomical determinants influence occlusal function in all anatomical planes.

Course Expectations

Attendance at all lectures and laboratory sessions is expected. The student must accurately mount two sets of casts, then demonstrate skill in waxing appropriately contoured teeth into correct occlusal function in four separate graded waxing exercises during normal course time. In addition, the student must pass two waxing competency examinations by demonstrating independently their waxing skill and ability to apply principles of occlusion. The student must pass written midterm and practical examinations . Students are encouraged to take quizzes designed to improve their perceptual skill and their critical thinking skills in the context of clinical problems. Finally, upon the completion of the course, the student must visit the online course evaluation site and complete the online evaluation or state online that they do not choose to complete this evaluation. Throughout all lectures and labs, professional and ethical behavior is expected.

Competencies Addressed

  • UWSOD Competency 1: Examine a patient using contemporary diagnostic methods to evaluate the head and neck region and to reach a diagnosis of the patient’s oral and craniofacial health status.
  • UWSOD Competency 13: Assess the dentition to determine the need for orthodontic treatment.
  • UWSOD Competency 14: Manage periodontal diseases.
  • UWSOD Competency 16: Manage diseases and conditions of the teeth.
  • UWSOD Competency 17: Manage replacement of teeth for the partially or completely edentulous patient.
  • UWSOD Competency 21: Recognize the role of lifelong learning and self-assessment in maintaining competency.
  • UWSOD Competency 22: Utilize critical thinking in assessing technical and scientific information for use in identifying patient needs and treatments.


Grade Sheet Packet (part of the ResD 515-516-517 packet)

Course Website (used to distribute all course materials, online quizzes, and online discussion board):

*last updated: 12/26/2013

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