impressionsWouldn't it be great if we could get all of our dentistry done without ever taking an impression? I think most of us are nodding yes right now. Think about it – who likes taking impressions?  Seriously, do any our patients like having trays of impression material put in their mouths?  Does any dentist enjoy taking impressions? I would venture to say anyone who likes dealing with impressions should probably have their head checked.

Sure, most of us and many of our patients tolerate, and maybe do not mind, taking impressions that much – but at the end of the day, wouldn’t it be great if we never had to take another impression again? I am betting your answer is yes.

The Path to Less Impressions

The good news is the day is coming! The bad news is, at least in my opinion, it is not here yet.  We can however, if desired, reduce the number of impressions we take via traditional methods.  So where are we now and how can you reduce the number of impressions you take? That’s exactly what I will cover here.

First off, with today’s technology we can accomplish many of our restorations with purely virtual models. This is accomplished with one several systems available today such as CEREC. In a nutshell, the teeth are scanned and then the software computes a virtual model on which the virtual restoration is designed and then milled. While in the beginning there where many compromises that had to be tolerated if you wished to use one of these systems, those compromises have been greatly reduced, if not eliminated.

Should you desire actual physical models, we have a growing number of options here as well. Just do a simple internet search and you might be amazed with all options available today.  While it is super cool that we can get models without ever taking impressions, there are definitely some drawbacks.

For starters, you have to send the file off to a lab to have the model made, which means you can likely pour a model in our office faster. Another big drawback, in my opinion, is that I find it harder to read the models as the texture is different than a traditional stone model.

On the flip side there are many positives; the models are resin, not stone. This means they are less likely to abrade and since they are not poured, you eliminate the chance for bubbles and voids.

John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author