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what is dental impression material

by:Golden Promise     2024-06-17

Dental impression material is a crucial component in many dental procedures. It is used to create a mold or replica of a person's teeth and gums, which can then be used to create customized dental prosthetics and appliances, such as dentures, crowns, bridges, and orthodontic braces. Dental impression materials come in different types, compositions, and applications, depending on their properties and purposes. In this article, we will discuss the basics of dental impression material, its types, features, and uses.

What is Dental Impression Material?

Dental impression material is a substance that is used to take an impression or copy of a patient's oral cavity, including their teeth, gums, and surrounding tissues. The impression material is applied directly to the patient's mouth, either by a dentist or a dental laboratory technician. It should be safe, non-toxic, and compatible with the patient's tissues and fluids, as well as with other dental materials that may be used in the same procedure.

Types of Dental Impression Material

There are two main types of dental impression material: elastomeric and non-elastomeric. Elastomeric impression material is a rubber-like material that can stretch and deform under mechanical stress and return to its original shape when the stress is removed. It is further divided into three subtypes:

1) Polyvinyl siloxane (PVS): This is the most commonly used elastomeric impression material. It has a high accuracy, dimensional stability, tear strength, and detail reproduction, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

2) Polyether (PE): This is another type of elastomeric material that has similar properties to PVS but is less hydrophobic, meaning it can absorb moisture from saliva, blood, or tissue fluids. PE is also more rigid than PVS, making it harder to remove from undercuts or tight spaces.

3) Silicone: This is the least popular type of elastomeric material as it has some disadvantages such as a low tear strength and a tendency to stick to itself and other surfaces.

Non-elastomeric impression material, also known as alginate, is a powder mixed with water to form a gelatinous mixture that hardens quickly to form a solid impression. Alginate has some limitations in terms of accuracy, dimensional stability, and tear strength, but it is relatively cheap, easy to use, and non-toxic, making it suitable for simple and non-critical cases.

Features of Dental Impression Material

Dental impression material should have certain features that make it effective and reliable for its intended purpose. Some of these features include:

1) Accuracy: The impression material should provide an accurate and detailed replica of the patient's teeth and gums, capturing all the relevant anatomical structures and surface textures.

2) Dimensional Stability: The impression material should maintain its size and shape over time and under different conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and pressure.

3) Tear Strength: The impression material should be strong enough to resist tearing or breaking during its removal from the mouth or handling in the laboratory.

4) Setting Time: The impression material should have a suitable setting time that balances the need for a quick and convenient procedure with the need for adequate working and setting times.

5) Safety: The impression material should be safe and non-toxic to the patient, the dentist, and the dental technician handling it, as well as compatible with other dental materials and medications used in the same procedure.

Uses of Dental Impression Material

Dental impression material has several uses in different dental procedures, including:

1) Prosthetic Dentistry: Dental impression material is used to create molds or models of a patient's teeth and gums, which can be used to make customized dental prosthetics, such as dentures, crowns, and bridges.

2) Restorative Dentistry: Dental impression material is used to prepare the teeth for fillings, inlays, onlays, and other restorations by capturing their shape, size, and location accurately.

3) Orthodontics: Dental impression material is used to create models of a patient's mouth, which can then be used to plan and fabricate orthodontic appliances, such as braces, aligners, and expanders.

4) Periodontics: Dental impression material is used to assess the condition of the gums and supporting tissues, including their depth, contour, and texture.

5) Oral Surgery: Dental impression material is used to make custom surgical guides and templates for precise placement of dental implants, bone grafts, and other surgical procedures.


Dental impression material is a fundamental material in modern dentistry, enabling dentists and dental technicians to create precise and customized dental prosthetics and appliances for their patients. The material should be chosen, handled, and used with care to ensure its accuracy, stability, strength, and safety. Understanding the types, features, and uses of dental impression material is vital for any dental practitioner or patient who seeks optimal dental outcomes.

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