“The Dahl Concept” is not well-known or utilized in the U.S. I agree that the greatest challenge is predicting where the tooth movement will occur.

I have used the technique quite successfully, but not in cases of tooth wear, which are usually much better controlled, in my opinion, with conventional orthodontics.

As originally published, the technique used a segmental anterior appliance, which allowed for intrusion of worn maxillary or mandibular anterior teeth, or eruption of maxillary or mandibular posterior teeth. Any of those possibilities creates room to restore the worn anterior teeth, but unfortunately doesn’t necessarily position the previously worn teeth where you may want them.

Where I have used the technique successfully has been by using a segmental posterior appliance to get incisor eruption or posterior intrusion to close open bites that have developed in adults following TMJ changes – specifically, cases of degenerative joint disease, and also in the acute bilateral loss of the discs following trauma, and therefore a loss of the joints’ vertical dimension, leading to a subsequent anterior open bite.

In all the cases I have used it, there was no pain involved, only the development of the open bite.

In my experience, what has worked successfully to limit the changes in tooth movement (primarily to the lower arch) and therefore have less esthetic risk, is to use a full arch base plate on the maxillary arch, and then build up the posterior pivot on the base plate to provide the posterior occlusal contact.

This minimizes the risk of changes in maxillary tooth position, but allows for some mandibular posterior intrusion, or mandibular incisor eruption, to close the open bite.

I have also found, as you would expect, that the more the patient wears the appliance, the faster the changes occur. Having said that, the patients I have treated almost universally did not wear it during the day, yet still got the desired change in the occlusion.

I am attaching a few cases to illustrate the challenges of the technique, but also how it can be used successfully.

The first patient presented to me years ago wearing a cast metal posterior pivot appliance, sometimes referred to as a "Gelb" appliance. The appliance has only posterior occlusal contact, and the anterior teeth are free to move independently from the posterior teeth.

dalh concept posterior occlusion

This appliance is typically fabricated for patients with specific TMJ issues concerning pain, and can be quite effective at providing pain relief, but with massive side consequences if the patient isn't carefully monitored.

This patient had worn the appliance for over seven years, 24 hours a day, and as you would expect, she now has a posterior open bite of several millimeters when she removes it.

The next case shows how significant the risks of segmental appliances can be.

The patient's dentist fabricated the appliance because she was in pain. When the posteriors would intrude or the anteriors would erupt so that she had anterior contact, he would add to the posterior appliance to eliminate the anterior contact.

acrylic posterior pivot appliance

posterior open bite

Naturally, this allowed for further posterior intrusion or anterior eruption, leading to another round of additions. The photos tell the rest of the story.

The third case is a patient I did an upper reconstruction on in 2003.

Around 2008, five years post-treatment, she fractured porcelain on the maxillary second molars, which I replaced. A few years later she broke them again, so I redid them with metal occlusals.

Ultimately, it turned out she had degenerative joint disease, and was losing joint height, but was otherwise asymptomatic. By 2013, she had a significant anterior open bite and almost all her occlusion was on the second molars.

Her history was almost identical to several other patients I treated using segmental posterior appliances, which is what I fabricated for her in August 2013.

She wears the appliance religiously every night, but not at all otherwise. I just saw her last week in the office and the open bite is completely closed, with no apparent change in the maxillary tooth position due to the fact that the appliance covers all the maxillary teeth.

(Note: article continues after photo set)

upper reconstruction occlusion
condylar degeneration
fractured porcelain
maxillary posterior pivot
posterior occlusion
no open bite occlusion
anterior bite plane appliance
anterior bite plane

The key now is to be careful she doesn’t start to develop a posterior open bite. To that end, I will carefully monitor her, and if the posterior occlusion starts to open when the appliance is out, I will make her a traditional full coverage appliance.

Hope this helps some of you with creative ideas for the use of segmental posterior appliances, but always carefully monitor your patient for undesired occlusal changes.

(Click this link for more dentistry articles by Dr. Frank Spear.)



Commenter's Profile Image Andrew S.
October 2nd, 2017
I have heard of this method before, but did not know too much about it. One thing that comes to mind. I know Dr Spears recommends an anterior deprogrammer for some cases that are symptomatic to clenching and grinding. I have been using this appliance on some of my patients with headaches and tmj syndrome. After reading this, I wonder if there is any concern with extrusion or intrusion of teeth with those patients. They are instructed to only wear it at night. I know on some I do a full maxillary coverage and others I make it from premolar to premolar. Will there be any issues I could be aware of? This reminds me of the discussions on Nti appliances and the reports about change in bite. Thanks