Dental impressions will be taken every time a dentist has to create an object that is to be fitted in the mouth, for example, a crown or bridge. As no two teeth are the same or positioned in the same way, a mold of the patient’s mouth is created. This is so that the artificial object to be fitted aligns with the patient’s bite.
Dental impressions also ensure the new fitting will fit perfectly with the rest of the patient’s teeth for the most natural look, comfort and functionality. This is why they are commonly the first preliminary step taken in many dental and orthodontic procedures.
How are Dental Impressions Made?
In the case of crowns or bridges, which deals with a few teeth, instead of making an impression of the whole mouth, the dentist will file the top and sides of the affected tooth to ensure a good fit. This filing can cause some discomfort, especially if the tooth was infected and requires a crown due to the cavity and decay.
Once the tooth is ready, an impression is taken and removed when it hardens to make a mold. This impression creates the perfect shape into which the final crown material can be poured. The dentist will then fit the new crown or place a temporary crown over the affected tooth until the permanent crown is ready.
The actual impressions only last a few minutes and are painless, as the dentist is simply placing an impression material over the tooth and then removing it.
For other procedures, especially for orthodontic conditions, an impression of the whole bottom and top jaw may be required.
Dental Impressions and the Gag Reflex
The taste of the dental impression material can trigger a sensitive gag reflex. If you are a patient that struggles to control their gag reflex in most dental situations, it is advised to remind your dentist of this issue. You may want to ask your dentist for a sip of water or to use antibacterial mouthwash after the impression is taken.
Another method to control your gag reflex, while the impression is being taken is to breath deeply through your nose or ask if the procedure can be done while you are sitting upright, instead of being reclined in the dentist chair. These methods can make the experience of having dental impressions taken more comfortable for you.