Tools of the trade: Leaf gauge


leaf_gauge_28773_RTby Dr Barry Johnson, Carlton Dental, Carlton, VIC


The Leaf gauge is something I don’t use frequently but it’s a very good diagnostic tool for people who have temporomandibular joint problems.


What’s good about it

Essentially a Leaf gauge is like the pages of a book. Each plastic leaf is quite thin—about 50 of them add up to 3mm. It is placed between the patient’s front teeth to hold their mouth open. By resting their lower teeth against it, the joint is gently guided into position. I then take out one leaf at a time until the teeth start coming together. I keep their teeth from meeting for five minutes and the joint gradually goes back into its relaxed state.

If they can hold their teeth open in this way for five minutes without pain, you can get a good idea of what in their bite is causing an interference. Quite often the jaw just slides forwards or sideways a few microns and in some people that can be critical and cause muscular tension.

When people have a lot of muscle tension, I find this a very useful diagnostic tool. On many occasions I can just adjust those contacts and it saves me from having to make an occlusal splint. I must admit the adjustment is time consuming, needs great attention to detail and all occlusal stops must be left.


What’s not so good

It’s a bit fiddly when cold sterilising. You need to separate all the leaves before soaking it in a solution and then ensure it’s completely dry before using it again.


Where did you get it

The Australian Society of Occlusal Studies.


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