The importance of proper fittings and impressions for mouthguard, Invisalign, and oral devices

The increasing popularity of aesthetic dentistry in recent years is a positive step for many people. It has brought with it an increase in how teeth look, which often depends on how they sit in the jaw and skull. The downside of this interest in aesthetic, or “cosmetic” dentistry is that it has come at the same time as the instant, throwaway culture. Sales of home kits which offer quick and cheap oral impressions are being ordered in huge numbers.

A commonly used phrase for these kits is “boil and bite”. By heating up a plastic template, biting down on it is advertised as giving a true impression of bite. This in turn is supposed to be a safe framework from which to make mouthguards, Invisalign straighteners and other oral devices. Sadly, this is not the case. In fact, there is evidence that boil and bite kits can do more harm than good.

Mouthguards for sports people must fit properly

Boil and bite impressions are most popular in the sale of mouthguards. As these are mainly used for playing sports, they are seen as more of a temporary and generalized product than other oral interventions. Boil and bite mouthguards are advertised as fitting better than off-the-shelf products. As the process leaves an impression of the teeth, it is assumed the guard itself will fit perfectly.

However, some sport scientists advise strongly against the use of these mouthguards. International rugby teams, for example, ban their use completely. Professional athlete guards are made by specialist manufacturers, who carry out detailed examinations of teeth, bite, mouth shape and jaw alignment. Mouthguards shaped by boil and bite are often held in place by bottom teeth, and can be too big for the mouth. There are cases of users cutting the back of their guards away to prevent gagging.

Dangers that you may not see

What boil and bite home kits don’t capture is the alignment of the jaw as it interacts with the skull. Taking a boil and bit impression of a potentially misaligned jaw is like seeing the tip of an iceberg without being aware of what is below the waterline. Therefore, impressions taken with this method could harmfully reinforce the original problem.

Capturing oral impressions is best done in 3D

The most accurate method to view and create an impression of a patients jaw and bite is through the use of a 3D scanner. A 3D scanner is the top-of-the-line method not only for it’s accuracy and precision, but also for the convenience and comfort that it provides to the patients.

The scanner is able to take multiple images from various angles, therefore mapping an understanding to the jaw and bite that is far more thorough compared to the traditional mould biting impressions.

Beyond the positives of precision, this method is significantly more comfortable for you – the patient! Users no longer have to deal with the gauging, breath-holding, smell, taste, and uncomfortable waiting for the timer while old-school impressions are being taken. The 3D scanner is a much less invasive procedure that is as easy as your dentist looking in your mouth with a small handheld tool.

With the 3D captures, mouthpieces can be created knowing how each individual tooth will be affected. In the case of Invisalign trays, the top and bottom aligners are already created catering angles and pressures to specific teeth in order to reach your desired end goal.

Professional help is painless and effective

Obviously, there is no way to obtain a 3D scan of the mouth at home. This technology has been developed over years by surgeons and other dental professionals. Protecting and realigning teeth is something to be taken seriously, as it affects people’s health. As part of health care, examination and consultation should be comfortable for the end user.

Using a boil and bite kit is not comfortable, and is not something which comes naturally. For this reason, customers often keep the product in their mouths for as short a time as possible. This is likely to give an even less useful impression of the teeth, not to mention the underlying alignment.

For all of these reasons, boil and bite dental products are to be avoided. The best way to get a useful oral impression is by consulting with dental professionals. Contact the expert team at Signal Hill Dental Centre for more advice.