Getting a set of orthodontic impressions taken is one of the first steps before you get your braces on, as well as a way to finalize your treatment once they are taken off! An impression is basically a cast made of your teeth and surrounding soft tissue that allows Dr. Chu to see the relationship between your teeth and jaws. We also use impressions to make our retainers in the clinic!

How does it work?

The impression material is loaded into a plastic tray that looks like a mouth guard. The tray is then placed into our mouth and pressed into place around your teeth and gums. It is held in place until the material hardens. It is then removed, but a perfect mold of your teeth is left with the material in the tray.

What is the impression material made with?

Perhaps the most common material we use is made with alginate. Alginate is a powder that contains potassium alginate, calcium sulfate and a few other elements derived from brown algae and kelp, according to the Dental Corporation of America. Combined with water, it turns into a gel that sets firmly enough to use as a mold. It can take anywhere from 30-60 seconds to harden.

Can you get impressions taken with braces on?

Yes! We call those "Snap Impressions"

What should you do if you have a sensitive gag reflex?

We understand that getting an impression taken isn't the most comfortable experience! Here are some tips to help you if you struggle with a sensitive gag reflex while taking impressions:

  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth- Take slow and steady breaths through your nose to help you avoid gagging
  • Distract yourself- Easier said than done right? But just try to take your mind off of gagging with anything you can to distract yourself!
  • Dont worry about drooling during the impression process- It's totally normal. Trying to swollow your saliva while you have the impression in your mouth will make you more likely to gag.


We hope this has helped you understand a little more about how and why we take impressions!