Spoon. If you knew the last word of that movie quote from the 1983 coming of age film ‘Valley Girl’ then you either grew up in the 80’s or you are a lover of obscure, campy films or you are an insane Nicolas Cage fan. I am old enough to remember enjoying the Valley Girl movie. As a midwestern boy, that movie represented the far off land of California and all things cool in America.
Gag me with a spoon, as described by UrbanDictionary.com is a, “phrase used to describe how unpleasant a situation can be.” For example, Hey Susan, Do you remember when you went on a date with Steve? Oh yeah, gag me with a spoon.
In the dental office, if someone started that phrase ‘Gag me with a…’ and they left the last part for you to finish, you might finish the phrase with the word ‘impression.’ Just like ‘Gag me with a spoon’ ‘Gag me with an impression’ is definitely an unpleasant situation. Gooey, cold impressions have been a regular part of the dental and orthodontic experience for decades. Holding a steady second place behind dental injections, they represent one of the most feared, uncomfortable, and hated treatments that dental offices deliver. Many people will refuse to go to the dentist and suffer with pain simply to avoid the possibility that they may need an impression as part of their treatment.
In the orthodontic office, an impression is frequently the cold, uncomfortable introduction to treatment with braces or Invisalign.
Hi, I’m Dr Feldman. I’m the nice type of dentist – the Orthodontist. Before we allow you to start the process of maturity and teenage opportunity known as braces, I would like to fill your entire mouth (and air hole) with a play dough-like substance for 2 minutes. Welcome to adulthood!
The impressions are used to make a stone model of the teeth so that the orthodontist can study them and create a treatment plan. To be fair, these models are pretty neat. You can actually hold your teeth in your hands. You can look at all of the parts of your teeth, study your bite, and see those extra cusps that the dentist points out at each appointment but you can’t manage to see in the mirror. Because they represent a 3 dimensional, actual size, and accurate version of the teeth, they have been the gold standard of documentation about the initial condition of the teeth and the bite for many years.
To seal our place in the pantheon of Master Torturer Occupations (in the hallowed space occupied by dentists, Special Forces Operators, eyebrow waxers, personal trainers, and accountants), the reward for getting your braces off was another cold, gooey impression. This time, the impressions were used to make ‘final models’ as well as your retainers.
Congratulations on your new smile! You did an amazing job of avoiding brushing, flossing and wearing rubber bands for the last 2 years. I would like to reward your mediocre efforts and show how much I care by choking you with another cold, gooey impression. Don’t forget to send us your friends and write a 5-Star Google Review.
Thankfully, times are changing. Over the last few years, technology has come to the rescue and made impressions virtually unnecessary. Many offices have been quick to adopt this technology. The confluence of a 3D scanning machine and 3D printers have allowed dentists and orthodontist to remove impressions from their list of torture talents. Lest you think we are getting soft, we still have injections, headgear, and the dentist’s coffee breath to torture you with.
At Feldman Orthodontics, we have invested in the latest technology in 3D scanning to provide quick, accurate, and comfortable virtual impressions of the teeth. These scans take less than 10 minutes of time and they are more accurate than the older gooey impressions. We have been using digital scanners for almost 5 years and we are on our 3rd generation of scanners. Each scanner has gotten faster and more comfortable. We can now officially say that there is no need for one of the older gooey impressions EVER in our office.
Virtual models of the teeth that show up immediately on a large touch screen can be used to make Invisalign, retainers, and even 3D models of the teeth. We can also email our patients a small video file that shows a 3D simulation of your teeth in their current position and what they will look like after you complete orthodontic treatment. This is a great way to share with family and friends what your future smile will look like. It’s also a great motivator during treatment to keep you brushing your teeth and wearing your rubber bands.
The reports from our patients about the experience of a scan have been phenomenal. Patients who tell us stories about throwing up in the dental chair from impressions or equating impressions to water boarding report total comfort with these scanners. This allows these patients to commence treatments that were once out of the question due to their fear and inability to take part in the impression process.
From an office equipment perspective, the scanner has also reduced our need for certain supplies related to impressions. We recently removed all of our impression trays from the clinic. We filled up a standard size garbage bag with over 100 impression trays that we will donate to the Arizona Mission of Mercy.
If you are curious to see this technology in action, or, you would like to have a no obligation scan done of your teeth, call the office to schedule a complimentary Smile Simulation.
Don’t worry, when you come in to our office, we have breath mints for the doctor to avoid his coffee breath.
Gag me with a spoon.