Alginate impression material is essential in most dental practices for a myriad of reasons, including its predictability, reasonable pricing, controlled set time, accuracy, and superior ability to capture soft-tissue extensions for removable prosthetics and orthodontics.
Alginate impression material has been successfully used in dentistry for several decades. When properly mixed, alginate produces predictable, accurate impressions with few bubbles and voids. It should, however, be poured immediately for superior gypsum models.
Alginate is the least expensive and most cost-effective impression material available to the dental profession. Since it is available at such a low price point, many practices purchase premium products from both large and small manufacturers.
Alginate impression material can set very rapidly or can be formulated to provide additional working time. Additionally, the material?s setting time is easily altered chairside simply by using warm water for a rapid set or cold water for a slow set.
When used properly, alginate impression material can be quite accurate. The material is regularly used to capture hard and soft tissues for cast metal removable partial dentures, complete dentures, and orthodontic models. In addition, there are many published articles that illustrate alginate impression material?s accuracy, even in crown and bridge impressioning.
As for extension, alginate impression material has the unique ability to gently distend the soft tissues and mucobuccal folds necessary for proper fabrication of dentures and partial dentures. While alginate substitutes are available (addition silicones), I find alginate?s ability to properly impress the soft-tissue nuances necessary for the previously mentioned procedures.
Alginate, when properly used, can provide a quick, predictable, and cost-effective impression. Such predictability and low cost can enable practitioners to perhaps gain a few extra minutes for lunch to enjoy a seaweed and seared ahi tuna salad from a local Japanese restaurant.
Christopher A. Hooper, DDS, has a private practice in Virginia Beach, VA, and is a Dental Product Shopper Editorial Advisory Board member.