I have been asked over the years; Do I need to have a Fully Adjustable Articulator?
The short answer is no. Unless. . . you’re a prosthodontist or laboratory technician who works for a prosthodontic practice. Even then, many of my prosthodontist friends tell me that over 90 percent of the work they do annually does not require a fully adjustable articulator. So why are there several brands of fully adjustable articulators on the market. Not every patient that comes into a practice will be of the cookie cutter nature. There will a time in a prosthodontic practice where the complexity of the case can only be addressed by collecting multiple records at different positions and programming the instrument to duplicate this movement.
Most Semi-Adjustable articulators give you, on average, about three settings that you can program. Again, for most work you will ever manufacturer a Semi-Adjustable instrument will suffice. Fully Adjustable instruments can have up to six or more different settings for programming. As you might expect, having additional setting gives you more programming opportunities that will replicate the patient’s excursive movements.
I have heard of individuals who have purchased a fully adjustable articulator and only take the minimum amount of patient records to program it like you would a semi-adjustable instrument. Doing so is doing a disservice to the functionality of the fully adjustable instrument. To use the fully adjustable instrument you need to have an electronic recording device, like the Cadiax Compact 2, to record the patient’s movement. The purpose of having a fully adjustable instrument is to be able to accurately program any deviation that the patient presents during excusive movements and program the articulator to match. That is the one big plus for having a fully adjustable articulator in your armamentarium.
One of the concerns I hear is due to the complexity of the fully adjustable articulator it makes it inherently more difficult to use. Like any tool you have around your house or in your lab the more programs or capabilities it has the more training is required to operate it.
In summary, having a fully adjustable articulator, taking an accurate facebow registration or using the information collected from the Cadiax Compact 2 mandibular recording device gives you the precise movements that the jaw is making during translation and excursive movements. A fully adjustable articulator is a must-have for the most complex complete restorative cases and for those clinicians who want to achieve a gnathological treatment objective.