, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 731-738
Date: 26 May 2012

The arrangement of the interproximal interfaces in the human permanent dentition

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The interproximal interface (IPI) is the interface between two adjacent teeth, i.e., the site where forces are transmitted along the dental arch. We investigated the IPI arrangement of the human permanent dentition. Specifically, the IPI morphometrical characteristics were studied and interpreted within a biomechanical framework.

Subjects and methods

A novel in vivo IPI measurement was developed based on diversity in transillumination of Polyvinyl siloxane impression of the interproximal region. The study group included 30 subjects, aged 27, ±4.0 years. Eleven parameters were examined in each of the 26 IPIs of the permanent dentition.


The IPI showed intra-arch similarity and interarch diversity between the tooth groups. The IPI shape was predominantly oval (60–100 %), yet kidney-shaped in some molars (22–40 %). From incisors to molars: the IPI increased significantly (p < 0.001) in size (1.72 to 6.05 mm2), occupied more of the proximal wall (7.8–12 %), changed its orientation from vertical to horizontal (88.66–14.80°), and was mainly located in the buccal–occlusal quadrant of the proximal wall, chiefly in the molar teeth.


The IPI is a product of proximal wall attrition and is dictated by the mastication forces, number of cusps, and crown inclination. IPI arrangement counteracts the adverse crowding effect of the anterior component of the mastication forces.

Clinical relevance

The IPI characteristics found in the present study provide guidelines for crown and proximal filling restorations to meet dental physiology requirements. Further, IPI determines correct tooth alignment and proximal wall stripping applied to resolve arch length deficiency.

This paper was based on a thesis submitted by Rachel Sarig for partial fulfillment of the requirements towards a PhD in Anatomy and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University. Additionally, this paper was also based on a thesis submitted by Nikolaos V Lianopoulos as partial fulfillment of the requirements towards a Master in Orthodontics at Tel Aviv University.