Ask a Dentist

November 1, 2021

Q: What Are Dental Impressions?

A gloved left-hand holding a physical dental impression

Dental impressions help us evaluate our patients' teeth to create models for whitening trays, crowns, bridges, dentures, night guards, sports mouthguards or other appliances related to orthodontics.

If you’re going to your dentist for orthodontics and restorative treatment, you may be wondering, do dental impressions hurt? They shouldn’t. At Dental Image Therapy Centres we use a CEREC machine - Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic - to take a digital impression. Traditionally, a physical mould was made of your teeth using a paste. These impressions are made with minimal discomfort, but it can be uncomfortable for patients with a strong gag reflex, as the impression tray rests against the palate.

In this Ask A Dentist blog, we’ll go over what dental impressions are, why you need one, how they're made and what to expect from this process.

What Is A Dental Impression?

A missing, broken or cracked tooth, if bad enough, is typically treated by placing a dental crown or bridge in your mouth to replace the missing teeth. To determine the best shape of your new tooth, your dentist will need to make an impression of your bite. Often, the teeth model is sent to a lab so a dental crown or bridge can be created with the required equipment. At Dental Image Therapy Centres, we have the lab in-house so you get your dental appliance done even faster! 

The purpose of dental impressions is to create an exact mould of your teeth for restorations, orthodontic appliances or prosthodontic treatment. 

How Long Do Teeth Impressions Take?

Not long at all! Your impressions should be quick and painless, whether you’re getting a digital impression or a physical one. For a physical impression, your dental professional is only placing the impression material over your teeth, holding it there for about 30 seconds or less and then removing it from your mouth.

We have CEREC, a three-dimensional imaging technology to get digital impressions of your teeth. Digital impressions are even faster and uses a specialized camera to take the impression of each tooth. The extra speed, lack of drying time and ability to make the dental appliance in our clinics means you can get your teeth fixed in only a single visit! No two teeth are the same, so the impression is the best way to create a comfortable and personalized result.

How To Cope With Gag Reflex?

Especially for a physical impression, your gag reflex is normal because of the mould material having to sit at the back of your mouth. Most people manage perfectly well because the impression is quick and our dental team works hard to make you comfortable. For those with a strong gag reflex, there are ways to manage this. While taking an impression, remember to breathe through your nose. Breathing deeply through your nose can help you get through the time required to get a good impression. 

You could also try to distract yourself by bringing in a stress ball to squeeze, reciting your favourite song lyrics in your head or anything else that can focus your attention away from the material in your mouth.

A dental impression may be an essential part of your treatment to ensure your teeth remain healthy and strong. To manage your fear of gagging, we recommend talking with your dental professional about it before getting the impressions made.

Are you looking for a dental clinic to help you improve your smile? Book your appointment today at either one of our two locations: St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre.


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