How Digital Impressions Have Done Away with Goop and Gagging

Digital impressions make your dental experience so much better

Advances in technology have given dental impressions an upgrade.

When you need dental work that requires a restoration such as dental implants, a dental bridge, or a crown, getting a dental impression taken is an essential part of the process. This impression helps professionals design a restoration that will fit perfectly in your mouth, allowing it to feel as natural as it looks.

If you’ve never had major dental work before or if it’s been a while since you’ve needed it, you might remember the putty impressions that dentists used to make of your teeth so they could design your restoration. Thankfully, the key phrase here is “used to.” As all technology has improved, so has dental technology—and one area where you’ll notice a huge difference is dental impressions!

These days, dentists use digital impressions instead of traditional putty impressions. But how do digital impressions compare to traditional putty impressions and what’s getting one like? We know finding this information on your own can be a little overwhelming, so we’ve put together a guide to help you learn more about digital impressions and the host of advantages they bring to your treatment.

What did old-style dental impressions involve?

Traditional dental impressions were taken using putty or a gel-like material and a dental tray. Sometimes this tray was custom-made to fit a patient’s mouth, but it most often came in a range of generalized sizes. Your dentist would then choose the tray size that would fit your mouth best, fill it with the putty, and fit it over the upper or lower arch of teeth.

When getting an impression of a full arch of your teeth, your dentist would also likely need to take an impression of the roof or floor of your mouth in addition to your teeth themselves. Once the tray was in place, you’d hold it in place in your mouth for several minutes until the material hardened enough to hold the shape of your teeth. It was then removed, revealing a mold of your teeth that was used to make dental restorations such as a zirconia or porcelain crown.

The entire process was often uncomfortable and time-consuming even for small restorations like a single dental crown, but it was even more so for larger restorations such as a full mouth set of dentures or implants. This is because the process would need to be repeated twice, once for the upper arch of your teeth and a second time for the lower arch.

What are digital impressions?

Digital impressions perform the same job as traditional putty impressions—creating a model of your teeth that’s used to create dental restorations—but the way they go about it is very different. Instead of using a physical material like putty to create an impression of your teeth, digital impressions use lasers or digital scanning to capture highly detailed images of your teeth and gums. 

Some types of digital impressions require your mouth to be sprayed in a powder before it’s scanned to help ensure that all the details are recorded properly. No matter which digital impression method is used, however, the process is quick and easy, often simply involving passing a small wand that’s about the size of an electric toothbrush over your teeth a few times to capture images of them from every angle.

What other advantages are there to digital impressions besides the lack of putty?

The elimination of the putty in traditional dental impressions is an obvious benefit, especially considering the off-putting taste and goopy texture make some patients gag or struggle through the experience. Digital impressions have many other benefits aside from this, though! The entire process is more comfortable and much faster, making for a better overall experience. Your whole mouth can often be scanned in a only few minutes, which means you’ll spend less time in your dentist’s chair and more time moving on with your day!

Perhaps best of all, though, are the results that digital impressions make possible. Since there’s no putty involved in digital impressions, they eliminate the risk of the air bubbles that can ruin putty molds and cause you to need to redo the entire, uncomfortable process of traditional impressions. Digital impressions also take highly detailed images, producing even more accurate models of your teeth. This high level of accuracy helps create restorations that fit better and more comfortably, giving you better treatment results and helping ensure that you’ll truly love your new smile.

Digital impressions also allow you to be more involved in the treatment process because you can look at the resulting model on the computer with your dentist. It makes it much easier for your dentist to explain aspects of your treatment using the model. They’re also incredibly easy to store digitally for easy future reference. As a final bonus, digital impressions are more environmentally friendly! They eliminate the need for the single-use plastic trays used to apply putty to your teeth in traditional impressions. That means digital impressions help cut down on pollution and plastic waste—and that’s always a plus!

Ready to try digital impressions?

Digital dental impressions use cutting-edge technology to bring you a range of benefits, from a faster, more comfortable experience to better results. These benefits make it clear that the future of dentistry is here! If you’d like to learn more about digital impressions, how they could benefit you, or how our office uses them, feel free to schedule a consultation with your Villages dentist at any time.