Making the Right Impression

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Carestream Dental’s Cheryl Hayes offers: “A Brief History of Impression Taking

Impression taking has been a part of dentistry since the mid 1700s, becoming an essential tool for the production of dental prosthetics. Early impressions, which used beeswax, would have been difficult to take and error prone, with innovations such as the impression tray and plaster of Paris only seeing use after 1840 [1].

The 1940s saw alginate being used for the first time, followed in the 1950s by the introduction of elastomeric materials (silicone based, polyethers and polysulphides). The development of hydrocollides (agar and sodium alginate) was a major advance, as these are hydrophilic materials that can capture accurate impressions despite the presence of some fluid, such as saliva and blood [2]. Elastomeric materials are polymers that possess both viscosity and elasticity (like rubber) that proved better able to capture surface detail [3].

Improvements have been made in just about every physical quality an impression material requires: wettability, working time, dimensional stability, tear strength, and so on. However, more recent refinements have generally been more incremental.

While advances in materials and technique have greatly improved the overall accuracy and quality of traditionally taken impressions, as in so many other areas in medicine, digital technology is revolutionising how things are done – yielding improvements in efficiency, usability and treatment planning.

Intraoral scanners capture high precision three-dimensional geometry to create a mesh of a surface. Light is projected and recorded by optical sensors, software then analyses the imagery, determining and mapping individual points of interest, these points are then grouped into sets of three coordinates [4]. From this data a 3D mesh can be created, which can be used to visualise and measure the geometry in ways that were never achievable with traditional methods, offering exciting new possibilities for treatment planning.

Whether you are making the jump to an intraoral scanner for the first time, or looking to upgrade, the CS 3600 is highly recommended. The CS 3600 is the latest model from Carestream Dental, enabling even clearer scans more quickly than ever before. With easy to understand, real time feedback you will be producing excellent scans without hassle, right from the start.

Progress never stands still. While advances in impression materials may have slowed, the digital revolution is well underway. Only time will tell what further advances it will bring to dentistry.

For more information, contact Carestream Dental on 0800 169 9692 or visit 


Goyal G. History of impressions, impression materials and
impression techniques in complete dentures. Journal of Advanced Medical and Dental Sciences Research. 2014; 2(2): 116-119. Available HERE Accessed July 19, 2018.

Madhavan S. A review on hydrocolloids – agar and alginate. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research. 2015; 7(9): 704-707. Available at Accessed July 26, 2018.

Moldi A., Gala V., Puranik S., Karan S., Deshpande S., Neela N. Survey of impression materials and techniques in fixed partial dentures among the practitioners in India. ISRN Dentistry. 2013; 2013: e430214. Available at Accessed July 26, 2018.

Richert R., Goujat A., Venet L., Viguie G., Viennot S., Robinson P., Farges J., Fages M., Ducret M. Intraoral scanner technologies: a review to make a successful impression. Journal of Healthcare Engineering. 2017; 2017: e9. Available at Accessed July 19, 2018.