Making Dentures Series: Part 2
You have had your denture consultation and now you’re ready to have a new denture made – exciting! So where does your denturist begin? With a dental impression.
What is a dental impression?
In order to construct a denture that fits your mouth perfectly, your denturist will need to take your impressions. As with any sort of impression, a dental impression is a relief or negative imprint, but specifically of your oral structures.
Your denturist will use your impression to create a model of your soft tissues and any remaining teeth. From that model, they will build a denture that fits the unique contours of your mouth.
How is a dental impression made?
Your denturist will select a dental impression tray that fits your mouth and oral structures. He or she will fill the tray with impression material and insert it into your mouth.
Depending on the type of impression being taken, the material will be a thick substance like alginate (refined sea algae) or a rubber-like silicone substance like polyvinyl siloxane (PVS). The impression material starts out as semi-solid and then sets to become rubber-like solid. The setting process can take from 30 seconds to a few minutes, depending on the impression material your denturist uses.
Once it has set up, your denturist will remove the material and tray from your mouth. At that time, you will be able to see an imprint of your dentition and oral structures.
Your denturist will take upper and lower impressions separately. This means that if you are having both an upper and a lower denture made, you will need to go through the impression process once on your upper (or maxillary) ridge and once on your lower (or mandibular) ridge.
What is it like to have my dental impression taken?
Most people would not describe getting a dental impression as comfortable or pleasant.
It can be a slightly messy process. You will wear a dental bib during the procedure to protect your clothing, and you may have debris on your lips and face afterward (which cleans up easily with water).
During the impression process, your denturist will have to manipulate your lips around the tray to form the border of your denture, and continuously prod the impression material to gauge when it has set up. Some people find this close and continuous physical contact awkward or uncomfortable.
For some, the most challenging part of the impression experience is having a tray of impression material inside your mouth. Some patients find this causes them to salivate more or even excessively. Some people may even feel as though they are going to gag during the process.
If you have a strong gag reflex, the experience can be difficult. Be sure to let your denturist know before the impression process begins – he or she may use strategies to help make your impression more comfortable.
Will I need more than one set of dental impressions?
Depending on your denturist’s practices and the treatment plan you have, they may take more than one set of impressions.
Preliminary or diagnostic impressions are generally taken to begin treatment. The resulting imprints are then used to create custom trays for final impressions.
Final or functional impressions are undertaken using accurately-fitting customized trays that are developed from your preliminary impressions. Final impressions are also taken using a highly accurate impression material. As you might guess, the impressions resulting from this process are much more accurate compared to preliminary impressions.
What is my dental impression used for?
Once your impression has been taken, your denturist will have the ability to create a master cast or model, and your custom-fitting denture will be constructed from that model.