What is a Dental Impression?

If you’ve ever had a tooth filled, crown placed, or braces put on, you’ve likely had a dental impression taken. A dental impression is a mold of your teeth that is used to create dental prosthetics like crowns and braces. Your dentist will take a dental impression in order to get an accurate picture of your teeth so that the prosthetic can be made to look and fit perfectly. In this blog post, we’ll discuss what a dental impression is, how it’s made, and what it’s used for. We’ll also talk about what to expect when having one taken!

What is a dental impression?

A dental impression is an imprint of your teeth that is made using a soft, pliable material. There are many types of dental impression materials, however one of the most commonly used is known as alginate. This material, called alginate, quickly hardens when it comes into contact with water. Once the alginate has hardened, it can be used to create a mold of your teeth.

When taking a dental impression, the alginate is placed in a tray before being placed in your mouth. There are two types of dental impression trays: stock and custom. Stock impression trays are premade in different shapes and sizes, while custom impressions are made specifically for you. Custom impressions are usually more accurate, but they are more work to make and still require a dental impression taken with a stock tray. In most cases, stock trays are sufficient.

Dental impressions are necessary in order to create dental prosthetics that look and fit perfectly. In order to get an accurate picture of your teeth, your dentist will take a dental impression. This mold can then be used by a dental lab to create:

partial denture on tooth model
  • Clear aligners
  • Crowns or bridges
  • Dental Implants
  • Dental Trays (for impressions or teeth whitening)
  • Dentures
  • Models for diagnostic study
  • Model for permanent dental record
  • Mouthguards
  • Nightguards
  • Oral appliances (for sleep apnea)
  • Retainers
  • Veneers

What to expect when having a dental impression taken

dental impression trays with alginate and bite marks

When you go to the dentist to have a dental impression taken, they will first place a plastic or metal tray filled with alginate in your mouth and ask you to bite down. This material quickly hardens, so it’s important that you bite down quickly and evenly in order to get an accurate impression. Once the alginate has hardened, your dentist will remove it from your mouth and use it to create a mold of your teeth.

The process of taking a dental impression is quick and easy, and shouldn’t cause you any discomfort. However, if you have a strong gag reflex, your dentist may recommend mild dental sedation in order to keep you from gagging.

Once your dentist has taken a dental impression, they will send it off to a dental lab. The dental lab will use the mold to create your custom restoration. Your dentist may also keep a copy of your dental impression on file in case you ever need a replacement.

In Conclusion

In this blog post, we’ve discussed what a dental impression is and how it’s made. We’ve also talked about what to expect when having one taken. Dental impressions are necessary in order to create accurate dental prosthetics. The process of taking a dental impression is quick and easy, and should cause you no discomfort. If you have any questions about dental impressions or other dental topics, be sure to ask your dentist! They would be more than happy to chat with you about all things teeth. Thanks for reading!

Dr. Sisko

Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.


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