teeth, then the area between them is called a diastema
instead of an embrasure.
A tooth has two proximal surfaces (fig 4-17), one
that is oriented toward the midline of the dental arch
(mesial) and another that is oriented away from the
midline of the arch (distal). Other important surfaces
of the proximal area are discussed in the following
CONTACT POINT.The point on the proximal
surface where two adjacent teeth actually touch each
other is called a contact point. An example of a contact
point is when you pass dental floss in between two
teeth. You should feel some resistance of the contact
point while the floss is being passed through.
proximal space is the area between the teeth. Part of
the interproximal space is occupied by the interdental
papilla. The interdental papilla is a triangular fold of
gingival tissue. The part of the interproximal space not
occupied is called the embrasure.
EMBRASURE. The embrasure occupies an
area bordered by interdental papilla, the proximal
surfaces of the two adjacent teeth, and the contact point
(fig 4-18). If there is no contact point between the
Figure 4-17.Proximal tooth surfaces and spaces.
The occlusal surface is the broad chewing surface
found on posterior teeth (bicuspids and molars).
To get a clearer picture of the various tooth
surfaces, refer to figure 4-15, which has previously
been discussed. The Dental Chart shows each of the
teeth unfolded so that the facial, occlusal, incisal, or
lingual surfaces of the teeth can be shown. For
posterior teeth, the facial surfaces are shown adjacent
to the roots, followed by the occlusal surfaces, and then
by the lingual surfaces (which are located next to the
numbers on the chart). For the anterior teeth, the facial
surfaces are shown as a line between the facial and
lingual surfaces. The lingual surfaces are located next
to the numbers on the chart.
OCCLUSION.Occlusion is the relationship
between the occlusal surfaces of maxillary and
mandibular teeth when they are in contact. Many
patterns of tooth contact are possible. Part of the
reason for the variety is the mandibular condyles
substantial range of movement within the temporal
Malocclusion occurs when any
abnormality in occlusal relationships exist in the
dentition. Centric occlusion, figure 4-19, is the
centered contact position of the chewing surfaces of
mandibular teeth on the chewing surface (occlusal) of
the maxillary teeth.
mandibular teeth come into centric occlusion and
meet along anteroposterior and lateral curves. The
anteroposterior curve is called the Curve of Spee
Figure 4-19.Centric occlusion.