Make a lasting impression
Diana Bloom says it is important to create the perfect dental impression first time
Taking an impression can be a technical challenge. It is not something that patients look forward to, especially if they suffer from a strong gag reflex or anxiety issues surrounding dental treatment. Therefore it is important that the clinician is confident and skilled in this technique to make a quick and comfortable experience for the patient, while ensuring a high quality impression. I’m sure most clinicians would agree that impression taking is briefly covered in basic training, but it is through regular practise, and watching others more experienced that we pick up skills and techniques that result in an experience that is more satisfactory to the patient with a clinically superior result. The General Dental Council (GDC) scope of practice simply states hygienists/ therapists are able to ‘take impressions’ provided they are trained and competent to do so. Therefore it is likely that we could be asked by a dentist to take impressions for a variety of dental treatments, including whitening trays, bite guards, sports guards, and a number of restorative preparations.
Accuracy is key
The accuracy of the impression is vital. A poor one can result in an inadequate fit of the restoration, tray or guard, and will result in lost time for both the practice and patient. Having to call the patient back in for a retake is not ideal, they will not relish the prospect and it can seriously hinder your professional reputation. Not only that, it can also waste time at your dental lab, which can prove costly both financially and in terms of the relationship you have built up with your technician. Retakes also use more materials, which will impact on your bottom line. All in all, having the ability to create a good impression first time, every time, makes for a smooth running system and smiling faces all round.
The path to success
Along with a refined operator technique, the impression tray itself is key to a successful result. Stock trays generally come in three sizes (small, medium, large) and will vary slightly in shape and size from manufacturer to manufacturer. They are generally all the Diana Bloom says it is important to create the perfect dental impression first time same colour and are easily mixed up when short of in-surgery storage space. The clinician must then trial the trays in the patient’s mouth and make an educated guess as to the best fit option, based on inclusion of all required anatomical features and comfort for the patient. This can be difficult if the teeth and oral cavity are not a perfect fit for a stock tray. Astek Innovations has recently produced Transform, a heat mouldable impression tray that refines this process. At the first glance they look smaller and anatomically superior to a stock tray, with a positive difference being that the three different sizes are produced in different colours (Figure 1) making it easy to pick out the required size. When placed in hot water for just 15 seconds, Transform becomes easily mouldable so it becomes a tailored fit to the patient’s specific oral cavity, rather than an ill-fitting stock tray. This is extremely useful for patients with either a narrow or wide arch, or where the stock tray is not wide enough to accommodate the occlusal surfaces of posterior teeth (Figures 2 and 3). The finger rests aid in equilibrating pressure for the clinician, resulting in an even spread of the impression material.
CAD/CAM technologies have revolutionised dental treatment planning and restorative procedures, yet accurate intraoral scanning to eliminate the need for impressions is still in the very early stages of development. No doubt it will be a while before these procedures become commonplace in general dental practice. Until that time, any product that makes the taking of impressions a more streamlined procedure for the clinician, and positively improves the patient experience are a very welcome addition to the dental product marketplace. The Transform heat mouldable impression trays may just be the product we are looking for.
Transform your impressions
- Taking an impression is a technical challenge
- Transform trays from Astek Innovations are heat mouldable allowing alterations to shape and size in surgery
- Transform trays are extremely strong with excellent anatomical shape
- Transform incorporates finger rests to equilibrate pressure
- The three sizes and colours allow easy categorisation and organisation of Transform trays