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    The 10 golden rules for taking impressions

    Following these tips can help to ensure that you take a perfect impression every time.

    Whether for dentures, crowns, clear aligners or custom trays, taking impressions is a necessary procedure in most dental practices. Unfortunately, there are a lot of factors that work against the accuracy of an impression, and retaking an impression is a hassle for everyone involved.

    Recently, 3M talked with a number of dental offices and laboratories about some typical challenges associated with dental impressions. Most agreed that while some impressioning best practices can be taught, a lot of the best techniques are learned over time through trial and error. Take it from these seasoned dental and lab professionals who suggested these 10 tips to improve the chance of getting a perfect impression the first time.

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    1. Keep the margins clear

    Keeping the margins free of blood and saliva is key for an accurate impression. If a patient is bleeding a lot, dentists could consider using hemostasis agents, mechanical retraction with cords or retraction paste, or a combination of any of those to ensure that the margins remain visible and dry.

    — Fay Ashley, New Image Dental Lab, Inc.

    2. Use hydrophilic material

    To counteract any unavoidable blood or saliva that does occur near the margins, impressioning with a hydrophilic impression material like 3M™ Impregum™ Soft Polyether Impression Material or 3M™ Imprint 4™ VPS Impression Material becomes more critical for success.

    — Dr. Luke Presley, DDS, Kimche & Presley Cosmetic & Sports Dentistry

    3. Tray size matters

    Trying the tray inside a patient’s mouth prior to adding impression material makes the impression easy and predictable. It also gives the patient a practice round so that he or she knows what to expect when the actual impression is taken.

    For a full arch, I typically make sure the tray fits over the bite registration. This trick ensures you’re using the right size tray before dispensing any impression material.

    For sizing a triple tray, check the opposite side of the arch while the patient bites down on an empty tray. This provides a mental image of what the occlusion should look like, gives the patient a feel for what he or she needs to do, and gives you an opportunity to ensure the patient is biting down correctly when the actual impression is taken.

    — Dr. Geetha J. Damodaran, DDS, Birch Lake Dental

    4. Be conscious of the tendency to gag

    For patients who are more susceptible to gagging, try using the least amount of material possible. Usually an excess of heavy body material is what triggers the gag reflex. Also, it can help to have patients sit up straight, and sometimes even put their legs on the ground so that they are sitting sideways in the chair. This way, they can lean forward to lessen the feeling that the material is going down their throats. In more severe cases, we may have the patient focus on breathing through his or her nose or may try some distraction techniques like lifting a leg during the impression.

    — Dr. Jared Lee, DDS, Juneau, Alaska

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    5. Air out the prep

    One method to ensure the margins are visible is to syringe around the prepared tooth once with material, lightly blowing air all around the preparation, and then continuing to syringe the remaining material.

    — Dr. Luke Presley, DDS, Kimche & Presley Cosmetic & Sports Dentisty

    Continue to page two to read more tips...

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