Several years ago, I was ordering custom printed coffee mugs as holiday gifts for my dental laboratory clients. On one side of the mug, I included the lab logo and contact information. On the other side of the mug, the printer suggested some kind of clip art or “catchy” text that would suit my business. Definitely had to go with the “catchy” text, right? As I started thinking, all the typical lines came to mind, like: “We Put Quality First”, “Your Partner to Success”, or “Excellence in Prosthodontics.” What I ultimately came up with was a phrase precisely to the point, “LIFE’S A BITE!” The oversized “LIFE’S A BITE!” mugs turned out to be very popular with my clients.
Years later, I still appreciate how well the “LIFE’S A BITE!” text applies to my dental laboratory business. Every single day in the lab, I am looking at cases on articulators mounted to the bite registration that has been provided. The “bite” really is integral to my business. One of the primary requirements for fabricating a well fitting and well functioning prosthodontic appliance at the laboratory is for the dentist or denturist to have the patience and technique to obtain an accurate bite or occlusal registration from the patient. To obtain this registration, the laboratory must provide the dentist with a properly contoured occlusal rim fabricated on an acrylic or composite base plate. When the dentist or denturist takes an occlusal registration, the objective is not to have the patient “bite” the way that they normally chew. We need the patient to close into a reproducible centric relation, whether the patient has positive stops that lock the dentition in place all the way around or alternately, the doctor or denturists places them into a reproducible centric relation which is verified by having the patient close several times to the same position.
Getting the bite right the first time results in the laboratory being able to provide wax setups that require less adjustment in the mouth on the initial setup. As a general rule, a good first bite also means less re-sets. When the laboratory is using expensive, high quality teeth that have carefully been set to the occlusal registration provided, the last thing the laboratory wants to hear about a case that is going to a process is a client saying something like “Don’t worry if the bite is off. I’ll grind it in the mouth on the finished denture.” The outcome of that approach is the client grinding on the cusps of teeth in the dental office which may both ruin the appearance of the teeth and dramatically adjust the occlusion in the mouth. The resulting appliance may not function properly, may require relining or multiple office adjustments, or worst case scenario, end up requiring a complete remake. That doesn’t make anyone look good!
The best advice I can give my clients is to take the time to obtain an accurate occlusal registration which should be verified at the try-in stage. If an adjustment needs to be made, it is much easier to do at the wax stage than after the process. Get a good “bite” so life does not become a “bite” for all parties involved!