What Everybody Ought To Know About Dental Impressions

Dental treatments like crowns, bridges, and orthodontic treatments such as dental braces and Invisalign involve specific procedures to be completed.

A dental check-up and a consultation with your dentist are needed to identify the problem and craft the best treatment plan suitable for your needs and other considerations.

dentist conducting dental impressions

A dental X-ray may also follow depending on your case and the oral-related issue, as well as the needed treatment. And often, the first phase of a dental procedure will include taking dental impressions.


What is a dental impression?

A dental impression is a negative impress of the teeth, gums, surrounding tissues, and other components of the oral cavity.

Using the impression taken, a three-dimensional representation is created which in turn is used for different purposes including orthodontics, prosthodontics, maxillofacial prosthetics, dental crowns, dental bridges, and surgery on the mouth, face, or jaw.

A dental impression is also utilized for identification of oral diseases, mouth protector, trays for teeth whitening, and as a permanent record, or a documentation of a treatment process.


What are the different types of a dental impression?

A dental impression may be classified into three main types — preliminary, final, and bite registration.

Primary impressions are often used to create replicas for the documentation or dental arches, diagnosis, and to aid in dental education. On the one hand, final impressions are used in the creation of dies and casts which are used to construct bridges, crowns, dental prosthesis, and other dental repairs.

Bite registrations record the occlusal connection between dental arches. These registrations are necessary when establishing articulation of the lower and upper jaw.


What is used in making a dental impression?

Alginate, an irreversible hydrocolloid and a naturally-occurring polymer, is often used in creating dental impressions.

Alginate is a biomaterial made of brown seaweed and has been widely used in engineering and biomedical science because of its biocompatibility.


What is an impression tray?

To create an impression, an impression tray is needed to act as a container where the impression liquid is positioned. Once the material is on the tray, it will be set into the mouth.

An impression tray can be made of metal, plastic, or disposable Styrofoam in different sizes and for different areas of the mouth. It can also be drilled with a hole or holes.

How is a dental impression made?

First, the impression material will be poured into the tray which will be inserted into the mouth and placed onto the upper or lower teeth.

When the material has turned into a solid rubber mass, the tray will be taken out of the mouth.

Finally, the impression will be forwarded to a dental laboratory to be processed.


Dental impressions make me gag. Are there other options?

Dental hygienists Margaret Walsh and Michele Leonardi Darby have stipulated some guidelines for dentists and dental hygienists to follow to reduce gagging during dental impression taking in their work Dental Hygiene: Theory and Practice.

The guidelines include:

  • When taking a dental impression, keep the impression matter at a considerable distance from the tongue’s posterior third because this is where the gagging reflex is situated.
  • Direct the material’s flow at a distance from the soft palate.
  • Contain the impression material using a wax dam.
  • Avoid overfilling the impression tray.
  • When inserting the tray, make sure the patient is in a vertical position, head bent frontward with the chin leaning down.
  • Make patients do slow and deep breaths via their noses.

Aside from these guidelines, you can actually skip all the hassle of taking dental impressions that make you gag through digital impression system.

A digital impression system creates dental impressions using digital technology or computer. Several images of the area are taken using an intraoral scanner installed on the system which will then create a three-dimensional reproduction of the teeth or mouth.

The final image is e-mailed to a technician for the preparation of the cast and then sent to a laboratory which will generate the final model.


Aside from saving me from gagging, what are the other pros of a digital impression system?

A digital impression system saves you from extended dental visits and also reduced the error linked to traditional dental impressions.

Through this system, one-day dental procedures have become possible.