The “Curve of Spee” is an anatomical curvature formed by the cusps of the teeth; it follows the occlusal line of the teeth, beginning at the cusp of the lower canine, and continuing along the cusps of the premolars and molars.
The Curve of Spee develops as a result of a combination of factors, including growth of the masticatory system, tooth eruption, and development of the neuromuscular system. Some studies suggest that the Curve of Spee is primarily related to the horizontal position of the condyle of the jaw, with some small influence from the vertical dimension. In orthodontics, a pronounced Curve of Spee is primarily related to brachifacial patterns (square faces) and Class II malocclusion (short jaw).
This curvature is what makes chewing more efficient, by maximizing the number of contact points. In prosthesis, in an attempt to imitate nature, it is considered to be key in the manufacture of dentures, since it relates to guiding the condyle during protrusive movements.
The Curve of Spee provides resistance against occlusal forces when chewing, it
assists in stabilizing the dental arches when biting, and is related to
the amount of masticatory force.
Several studies have shown that the greater the masticatory force, the flatter the Curve of
Spee. In orthodontic treatments, we align and flatten this curve, although not completely.
Image of a pronounced Curve of Spee before treatment, and the same mouth with the Curve of Spee flattened:
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