UW School of Dentistry
Introduction to Occlusion
3 credits/ Quarter 2 (Winter, First Year)
This didactic-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, reinforce 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.
The broad objectives of this course are to relate how:
1) teeth contact in maximal intercuspal position (MIP) and how this position differs from centric occlusion (CO);
2) the envelopes of mandibular motion in the sagittal, frontal, and occlusal planes and why these envelopes have the shapes they have in health and disease;
3) maxillary and mandibular teeth move relative to one another and contact during excursive movements of the mandible;
4) excursive movements are influenced by the teeth, mandibular condyles, muscles of mastication, and temporomandibular joint anatomy;
5) articulators are used to approximate occlusal function and the strengths and weaknesses of different types of articulators; and to provide students the opportunity to:
6) develop sufficient motor-perceptual skill to apply principles of occlusal function to clinical problems;
7) develop an ability to accurately self-assess the quality of their work.
8) develop critical thinking skills that allow integration of clinical information in interpreting and treating patient conditions of occlusion.
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.
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.
The student must pass two motor-perceptual proficiencies by demonstrating independently their waxing skill and ability to apply principles of occlusion.
The student must pass written midterm and cognitive proficiencies. Students are encouraged to take weekly quizzes designed to improve their critical thinking skills in the context of clinical problems.
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 choose not to complete this evaluation.
Throughout all lectures and labs, professional and ethical behavior is expected.
- 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 ResD515-516-517 packet)
- Course Website:
*last updated: 12/29/2014