By Tomas Saucedo, RDA
As an RDA, I care deeply about my patients and the comfort they experience while under my care. This includes when they undergo such non-clinical yet equally necessary procedures as impression taking. Despite our best efforts and coping techniques, there’s only so much a dental assistant can do to ease patient’s anxiety, make them more comfortable and help them control involuntary gagging reflexes. Gag reflexes can limit our ability to provide quality care and compromise many aspects of treatment, from diagnostic procedures to the ultimate accuracy of anticipated restorations.1
Impressions are necessary for any number of dental treatments. Unfortunately, just as many patients can frequently experience gagging, phobia, and discomfort during the processes. In some cases, impression taking can be a negative psychological experience.2 That’s why I look for ways to make impression taking much less of an ordeal.
Patient Benefits of Comfortable Impression-Taking
Dental patients may feel uncomfortable, anxious or fearful during any number of dental procedures, and perceptions or apprehension of pain aren’t the only reasons. Rather, many patients who have never had negative dental experiences have cited feelings of vulnerability, not being in control, possibly gagging, and unpredictability as reasons for their anxiety or discomfort.3 Impression taking procedures can create situations in which all of those feelings occur, especially when the familiar alginate impression materials that have been used for years as a crucial part of dental practice are involved.
However, when alginate-equivalent VPS material is used like StatusBlue by DMG, clinicians can provide the most comfortable care for their patients without any compromises. Right from the start, patients will feel at ease because there’s nothing to give them a sense of unpredictability. The material comes in convenient pre-filled cartridges, so there’s no time consumed mixing involved.
Once the impression material is placed in the mouth, the more pleasant feel and taste compared to previous impression materials makes an immediate difference in their experience. Equally important is the fact that StatusBlue demonstrates an improved thixotropic consistency, so it won’t slump, run, or otherwise cause patients to gag or leave them feeling vulnerable.
Patient Benefits of Impression Accuracy and Stability
Of course, the comfort and convenience patients experience during the impression taking process become irrelevant if they must endure the process again because the impressions are inaccurate, unstable, or deformed. With StatusBlue, I’m able to accurately capture intraoral details—such as margins—in impressions that are free of voids, bubbles, or other imperfections.4,5 Additionally, because StatusBlue’s impression demonstrates high deformation recovery, it won’t distort when it is removed from the mouth, or after the cast is poured. Unlike alginate materials, StatusBlue can also be poured multiple times. This is important because it means patients won’t need to be subjected to another impression taking procedure.
There are numerous patient benefits that include accuracy, stability and distortion-free impressions. For example, in the case of temporary restorations, the precise marginal integrity that results from accurate impressions helps prevent leakage and protects the underlying preparation. A secure and properly formed provisional restoration also enables patients to proceed confidently with their treatment, without unexpected problems.
What’s more, StatusBlue impressions can be poured immediately—or when it’s convenient, so provisional fabrication can begin as soon as the impression is removed from the patient’s mouth. This is an advantage compared to other impression materials that require 20 minutes of waiting prior to pouring. For patients, it means a shorter and more convenient appointment.
Applications of Accurate, Patient-Friendly Impressions
StatusBlue by DMG, demonstrates low dimensional changes and retains its shape upon setting for months, without the need for special storage. As a result, StatusBlue impressions can be used again in the future. The material also can be disinfected, without concerns about affecting dimensional stability.
For patients, this means that future needs and concerns can be addressed quickly and efficiently—even emergencies. If a provisional restoration needs adjustment or becomes dislodged, it can be easily remade using the original impression. The dental assistant can simply keep the StatusBlue impression for each patient in a storage bag with their name on it until their final restorations are delivered.
But even when things go perfectly, there are times when temporary crowns must be revisited. This is particularly true in complex cases, such as when patients undergo gingival surgery or implant placement.
In these cases, patients may be in provisionals for several months, during which time the temporaries may need to be replaced. If alginate impressions were taken, the patient would have to endure another impression procedure. With StatusBlue, the original impression can be used, new provisionals created
in minutes, and the patient relieved of an otherwise unpleasant ordeal.
Cost-Effective Patient Satisfaction
Without question, dental practices are businesses. Satisfied and comfortable patients are the customers who keep us going and for whom we want to provide great care. Of course, as a business, there’s also a
tendency to be cost-conscious.
Patients spend less time in the chair, and they’re more comfortable. Their impressions come out right the first time, so there’s no need to re-take them, which again saves them time, anxiety, and discomfort. And because accurate impressions translate to accurate restorations, the likelihood of remakes is greatly reduced, and patient satisfaction greatly increased! I can’t put a price on those benefits.
1. Dickinson CM, Fiske J. A review of gagging problems in dentistry: 2. Clinical assessment and management. SADJ. 2006 Jul;61(6):258-62, 266.
2. Farrier S, Pretty IA, Lynch CD, Addy LD. Gagging during impression making techniques for reduction. Dent Update. 2011 Apr;38(3):171-2, 174-6.
3. Armfield JM. Towards a better understanding of dental anxiety and fear: cognitions vs. experiences.
Eur J Oral Sci. 2010 Jun;118(3):259-64.
4. Hamalian TA, Nasr E, Chidiac JJ. Impression materials in fixed prosthodontics: influence of choice on clinical procedure. J Prosthodont. 2011 Feb;20(2):153-60. Epub 2011 Feb 1.
5. Rubel BS. Impression materials: a comparative review of impression materials most commonly used
in restorative dentistry. Dent Clin North Am. 2007 Jul;51(3):629-42, vi.