How to Tell if Your Dentist is Good at Dentures – Tip #2 CUSTOM TRAYS

2 minute read

Can anyone other than a dentist geek out about the denture-making process? Who knows? Maybe I’m just writing to myself here. I’m going to get into the use of a custom tray today- if only for myself!

Even with the advances of intraoral scanners and 3D printers in the field of dentistry, almost all good dentists will still get a physical impression with a custom tray.   Why is this?  

  1. Intraoral scanners, although highly accurate at creating digital impressions for crowns and implants, still haven’t found their use case in denture impressions.  This is because so much of a denture impression has to do with capturing the soft-tissue details of the mouth—which needs to be captured as your gums and cheeks are totally relaxed.  Then again, there is a part of the impression process where the dentist will have you go through some functional movements as the impression sets.  I tell my patients to say “Ooh, Eee, Ooh, Eee.:” A good analogy as to why you can’t do this using an intraoral scanner is trying to take a panoramic picture on your iphone when something in frame won’t hold still. 
  2. Now a word about custom trays. I’d worry about the fit of a denture that’s based on an impression from a small, medium, or large “stock tray.” When us dentists use those trays, we do so knowing that the impression can only be so good.  We can’t use the nice impression material because it has the handling characteristics of honey, which will start to sag and sluff off of the tray before it sets up.  But what we can do is take an initial impression with a stock tray using material that’s more like jello.  Now, we know that the “jello” impression won’t be good enough for a denture, but here’s the dental hack – we can use that to literally make you a new customized impression tray that’s quite close to the shape of your gums.  Now we can break out the honey.

Thanks to all the dentists (and maybe a few awesome patients) for making it to the end of this post!

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