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  • Aesthetic Oral Arts

Is It Important to Take An Excellent Dental Impression?

Mastering the Art of Impression Taking

Man Getting Dental Impressions

Choosing the Right Tray

The size of your impression tray is the most CRITICAL factor. When choosing your tray, you want to try it in FIRST. Always, always try in your tray! That way you can ensure proper fit and the patient will also know what to expect. Make sure the tray is large enough to capture all intraoral areas and that it does not hit teeth on the buccal or facial sides. You also want to make sure you capture the distal of the most posterior tooth (this is important for full arch and triple tray impressions), otherwise you will not have proper occlusion. If you are simply taking a triple tray impression, make sure you are able to capture the tooth mesial and distal to the prepped tooth/teeth, as well as the opposing tooth/teeth of the prepped tooth. Please remember if your patient has a deep or shallow palate, mandibular or maxillary tori or any other dental concern, you may need to modify the tray with rope wax or heat to ensure proper fit.

Alginate vs. PVS

Alginate is known as an elastic, irreversible hydrocolloid and is one of the most frequently used dental impression materials. Most dentists prefer this method as is it a simple, cost-effective and vital part of a practice.

PVS stands for polyvinyl siloxane. PVS is an addition-reaction silicone elastomer. It is a viscous liquid material that cures quickly into a rubber-like solid.


IF YOU DO NOT HAVE AN ALGINATOR- IT IS AN AMAZING INVESTMENT – use only when mixing alginate. If you haven’t heard of an alginator, please CLICK HERE to watch this video;  to see how awesome this gadget really is. Quick, simple, smooth mix and clean bowl every time!

Loading the tray with enough material is a critical step in taking an exquisite impression. After filling the tray use the excess alginate and fill the occlusal grooves of the teeth to guarantee that you capture the occlusal tooth anatomy. After the tray has been seated, be sure to wiggle the patients’ lips to make sure you are able to capture some of the soft tissue details. SEE VIDEO

What if your patient has a gag reflex? Remember to walk them through the impression taking. Make sure that you talk to them the entire time. Sit them up straight so they don’t feel like they are swallowing the material. Try distracting them with a simple “raise you left leg and wiggle your toes” or “raise your right hand and wiggle your fingers”. Make sure you are reminding them to breathe through their nose.

Next, LET THE MATERIAL SET! If you don’t, these are the common errors that can happen:

Inadequate Margin Detail

Internal Bubbles

Marginal Tears

Drags & Pulls

If you use alginate, please pour up the impression right away. If you fail to do this, the impression has a chance of shrinking, causing distortion of the teeth and/or model.

Digital Impressions

Digital impressions provide incredibly accurate data, often resulting in restorations that fit so well, many digital dental offices experience 5 to 10 minute crown seat appointments. The digital impression also enhances the image and allows more accurate communication between the dentist and the dental laboratory. The use of this technology can help to omit some or all of the above common errors in impression taking.

The type of impression is ultimately the choice of the dentist. With that being said, these steps are the building blocks for creating a dental masterpiece for your patient!

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