In the clinic we usually set the teeth flat. Make sure you have something flat (Trubyte Occlusal Plane) to help you set the teeth. I use a small rectangular mirror.
I like a mirror because it magnifies errors. If a tooth is below the plane of occlusion by 1/2mm then when the mirror is placed against all the teeth, the image of the tooth (we are checking) will be raised into the mirror 1/2mm. It will now look like the tooth is off the plane by 1mm. (The tooth and its image will appear to be apart by 1mm.)
Flat does not necessarily mean horizontal. However, teeth can be set horizontal, but because the mandibular teeth are set to a point half way up the retromolar pad there is usually a distal rise in the occlusal plane.
When you set the two lower anteriors, look posteriorly and note where the plane of occlusion ends. If the distal point is on or above the incisal edges then continue. However, if the plane of occlusion dips downward, speak to your instructor before going on.
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©1999 by Julius Rosen, D.D.S.