At the end of a long appointment, you realize just how far behind schedule you are. But you still need to collect impressions from your numb patient for their dental crown before they leave. In an effort to save some time, you ask your patient to hold their trays while you and your assistants start working with the next patient in the queue. You take a quick glance at the impressions and immediately send them to your dental lab. A few days afterward, however, you get a call saying that you need to retake the impressions you sent.
There are numerous ways to make a mistake with impressions. One little detail can mean that your patient’s restoration doesn’t fit properly, or it needs to be sent back for rework. In any case, your patient can exit your office frustrated and unimpressed with their experience getting a restoration, which can be detrimental to your business. Here are some common impression mistakes and some tips for avoiding them, including using digital technology.
Common Impression Mistakes
Taking impressions can seem simple, but if you or your assistants aren’t careful, you could end up with ill-fitting restorations. Keep an eye out for the following mistakes.
Not Following Recommended Protocol
In the process of taking impressions, you may slip into auto-pilot and end up skipping a little step or starting before the body is set up before the wash material. In this specific case, the wash can be pushed away from the prep when it should be all the way around the surface of the prep. This results in tight fits for crowns that require more chairside adjustment.
When you’ve taken a proper impression, you should not be able to see exposed tray surface. Tray impingement can lead to a myriad of problems including tight fit, loose fit, and wide open margins.
Tray Movement or Patient Involvement
It may be tempting to have the patient hold their own tray, but this is not recommended. They might inadvertently move it. Unfortunately, it can be hard to tell whether the tray has been moved because impressions are like photo negatives. Flaws may not be initially obvious, but once the plaster is poured, issues indicating movement (e.g., multiple occlusal surfaces, double impressions) easily become apparent.
It’s a simple thing, but the expiration date matters on the efficacy of your impressions. It pays to double check the expiration date beforehand. When expired, they don’t react the same and don’t set up properly, which often leads to inaccurate impressions and inaccurate restorations.
How to Fix Impression Problems
In most cases, these mistakes can be easily avoided by doing the following:
- Perform the impressions yourself or make sure a trained dental professional is holding the tray.
- Take some time to evaluate the impression before sending it to the lab.
- Use the proper tray for your patient’s arch size.
- Take bite registration before your patient is numb so that they’re biting naturally.
- Switch to digital impressions instead of physical impressions, eliminating all of these problems.
If you choose to continue using traditional putty impressions, you need to make sure you’re doing them properly so that the dental lab can create products your patients will love. Otherwise, your patients may become dissatisfied and go to another office.
About Perfect Impressions
Since 1986, Perfect Impressions has been at the forefront of dental technology. In addition to accepting traditional impressions, we are able to work with most digital impression files from software like iTero, 3M, Carestream, and more. We also proudly have close communications with dentists to ensure that patients receive the best possible products. If you would like more information about digital impressions or our restorations, you can contact Perfect Impressions on our website.