Braces Dental Impressions: What Is Their Purpose

When getting braces, there will be many steps you have to do before the brackets are placed on. You will have to get a mould impression of your teeth. Don’t be nervous about the process as it’s not a painful one, nor does it take too long to do. Everyday, orthodontists do this many times both before and after braces.

What Are They?

These are basically the blueprint of the inside of your mouth. It shows how your bite is and how everything is aligned or crowded. You get them by biting into a tray (like a mouth guard) that is filled with a paste like material called alginate. Alginate is basically a type of powder that will be mixed with water and placed into the tray. It feels like really thick toothpaste and tastes similar as well. After it’s in the tray, you bite into it like you would with a mouth guard. You will do this for a few minutes until it solidifies and takes the impressions of your bite. Then it is removed. This doesn’t take more than a few minutes, and you won’t feel any pain at all.

The orthodontist will usually take an impression of your lower jaw first then followed by your upper teeth. Don’t worry about feeling as though you’re swallowing the alginate, even though it feels like it we can assure you you’re not. The tray will be kept in your mouth until the dental assistant feels that they’ve gotten a good mould. When it hardens, your orthodontist will remove the tray. Afterwards, they will pour the paste into the mould so that they have the moulds of your teeth for treatment preparation. This helps them by planning out how and where to place the braces brackets.


Alginate is made from seaweed. It can also be made of kelp. Kelps are a large type of sea weed found in cold waters, such as seas near and around Scandinavia.

 Am I Swallowing It?

Even though it might feel like it at the time, you can rest assured that it isn’t going down your throat. To get great impressions, your orthodontist has to get all your teeth imprinted. This means that even the ones way at the back need to make contact with the paste like material. Since those teeth are very close to your throat, you will feel as though you’re swallowing the alginate. Rest assured you’re not, because the alginate is very thick and doesn’t move out of the tray, even when you bite down on it.

Gag Reflex

If you have a very sensitive gag reflex, let your orthodontist know. They will apply an anesthetic in the back of your mouth that numbs the area for a few minutes so they can place the tray in without any problems. This insures that he/she will get a great mould that will help them prepare your treatment better. The anesthetic can be sprayed into the back of your mouth, but prepared for a displeasing taste.

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