Records are initially hard to deal with because you need to do it once to understand how they work. You can't learn too much from a manikin.
Let us work backwards. Consider first a patient (or yourself) with a complete set of teeth (not dentures). When you are in rest vertical dimension your lips touch but your teeth do not. When you speak, your teeth do not touch.
This free way space is physiologically necessary. If the denture teeth contact when speaking you will have bone resorption and sore spots, and possibly condylar joint pain. The muscles will fatigue because they will constantly try to keep the teeth apart. The only time the muscles will relax is when the dentures are removed.
At the correct occlusal vertical dimension the wax rims do not touch in speaking. If they do touch then your denture teeth will eventually "click" when the patient speaks.
When the patient closes on the wax rims we also want the face to have a natural, relaxed appearance.
If the patient has to forcibly make the lips touch the vertical is open. If the lips meet and force each other out then the vertical is closed.
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©1999 by Julius Rosen, D.D.S.