All Smiles Family Dentistry

Why Do I Need a Dental Impression?

If you have a missing tooth, need crowns or dentures, your dentist will need a dental impression of your mouth. Dental impressions ensure that replacement teeth and dentures will fit your unique mouth precisely. After all, it’s your dentist’s job to ensure that your new teeth fit comfortably and look natural.

Why Do I Need a Dental Impression?

What is a dental impression?

A dental impression is a negative imprint of your teeth and the surrounding soft tissues. A dentist will then use this imprint to form a positive reproduction (cast or model). Dental impressions, which are essentially hollow molds, are sent to a lab technician to recreate the tooth or teeth. A dental laboratory technician will then complete this process by filling the mold. An impression can be partial, to replace a missing tooth or a few missing teeth, or full sets of teeth, when fabricating dentures.

Types of Impressions

Denture Impressions

A full set of dentures will replace an entire arch. Therefore, your dentist will need a full impression. A denture impression will fit over the gums and any remaining teeth. This is done to ensure the dentures feel and look as natural as possible.

Dental Crowns Impressions

It is possible to restore teeth in a state of decay by crowning. A crown will cover the exposed part of the tooth above the gum line. The purpose of a dental crown is to strengthen a brittle and fragile tooth. An impression will help to ensure an exact fit, so as not to displace the teeth next to the crown. Part of the dental crown impression-making process is the removal of tooth enamel in order to ensure a snug fit of the replacement.

Dental Bridge Impressions

The purpose of a dental bridge is to close or “bridge” the gap between teeth due to a missing tooth or missing teeth. A dental bridge is a prosthetic tooth that is anchored in place by dental crowns on either side. Dental crowns can cap natural teeth or implants. To guarantee an accurate fit, a dentist will make an impression of the teeth on both sides of the gap.

Porcelain Veneers

A dentist will recommend porcelain veneers to cover imperfections, small chips, cracks, and stains. Veneers are thin, porcelain shells and that bond to the front of the teeth. Lab technicians use an impression to shape the porcelain veneers. Like with crowns, dentists will remove a thin layer of enamel from the teeth in order to glue the veneers to your teeth.

Making a Dental Impression

Historically dental impressions were made with pink putty. Apart from being uncomfortable, dental impressions can also trigger a gag reflex. Today, the pink putty has given way to a variety of other solid or semi-solid materials. A dentist or dental assistant will use a dental impression tray to mix the impression materials. The next step requires the dentist to place the material in the mouth and fit it over the teeth and dental arches. The impression mold will then sit in the mouth until it is an elastic solid. Upon removal, a lab technician will fill the mold. The final result is an exact replica of the patient’s mouth.

Techniques for Making Impressions

Impressions fall under two categories, mucostatic or mucocompressive. This depends on the type of material and impression tray that dentists use to make the impression. Mucosa, or the mucous membrane lines body cavities and covers internal organ surfaces. The membrane is comprised of one or more layers of epithelial cells that overlay a layer of loose connective tissue. Some of these membranes secrete mucus, which is a dense protective fluid.


Mucostatic means the dentist will make the impression with the mucosa in its normal resting position. A mucostatic impression enables a denture to fit well when the mouth is at rest. When chewing, it will pivot around incompressible areas and dig into compressible areas.


Mucocompressive means the dentist will make the impression when the mucosa is being compressed, not resting. A mucocompressive impression will engineer a denture that is most stable when the mouth is active, not resting.

Selective Pressure

The selective pressure technique is the third type of impression technique. This technique involves compressing stress-bearing areas and relieving stress relief areas. The selective pressure technique allows the dentist to achieve the advantages of both mucostatic and mucocompressive techniques.

Other Impressive Uses

In addition to being used in prosthodontics (dentures) and orthodontics and restorative dentistry (crowns, bridges, inlays, and onlays) impressions are used in a variety of dentistry areas. A dentist can also use impressions for diagnosis to build treatment plans. Dental impressions are very important in creating maxillofacial prosthetics to restore traumatized areas. Dental impressions can also assist in the process of addressing congenital defects.

Smile for the Camera

Dental Impression Itero

All Smiles Family Dentistry uses technology called the iTero Element, which has improved the patient experience by making this process an easy digital scan.

Nowadays dental impressions are made by taking a digital impression. This is less invasive and more accurate than physical molds because there is more detail. What’s more, it makes the whole process quicker because they can simply be emailed to the lab. The quicker turnaround time will put a smile on your dial faster.

All Smiles Family Dentistry in Omaha, NE

At All Smiles Family Dentistry, we are proud to provide high-quality care to all our patients both young and old thanks to our compassionate and experienced dental team. We offer a clean and comfortable clinic to help you feel relaxed during your visit. Contact All Smiles Family Dentist.