Dana Point patients “test drive” treatment with diagnostic wax-up
Posted By Dr. Mark Cruz
You probably wouldn’t consider purchasing a new car without pouring over images of it on your computer to see if it looks appealing and taking it for a drive to test functionality. Doesn’t an investment in your smile deserve the same level of evaluation? Dr. Mark Cruz gives patients in the Dana Point area the chance to see how dental work will look and function, with a diagnostic wax-up technique.
What is a wax-up?
A wax-up is a means of visualizing the outcome of a dental restoration procedure. It is also an invaluable diagnostic tool for the dentist to meticulously map out treatment. Though a wax-up adds a little time in the chair, it is incredibly important for both you and the dentist, acting together as a treatment planning team.
Some dentists use models of your upper and lower arches of teeth (or generic ones) to show how a restoration will look. Placed in an articulator, these models also demonstrate the impact of the restoration on bite. However, a free-standing model cannot take into account how the change will look in your mouth, influencing everything from lip fullness to skin tone.
A CGI (computer-generated image) system can be helpful in illustrating potential treatment outcomes by morphing your face with various smile enhancements. However, a virtual simulation does not give you an idea of how a restoration will feel or function. Plus, an inexperienced technician may develop a CGI that creates unrealistic expectations.
That’s the exciting difference with a wax-up and mock-up. This technique gives the truest representation of how the work will actually look, feel, and function in your mouth.
The process begins with a comprehensive oral examination and an unhurried discussion about what you want to change in your smile. Dr. Cruz explains treatment options, and together you arrive at a determination of which service or combination of services best suits your needs.
Then the creation of a wax-up and mock-up generally follows these steps:
Dr. Cruz takes impressions of your mouth.
He uses these molds to make stone casts of your upper and lower arches, including the imperfections the treatment is meant to address.
Wax is applied to teeth in the stone cast to develop the desired outcome and to determine which restoration methods can achieve it.
A laboratory wax-up is made from the stone models. This material is ideal for the additive process of placing simulated restorations into the representation of your dentition.
Once you and Dr. Cruz are satisfied with the wax-up, he uses it to create trays or stents for the mock-up. This is something like taking an impression, except the laboratory wax-up is used as a basis rather than your mouth.
The next step is the application of an autopolymerizing resin. Dr. Cruz pours this pliable substance into the stent. It flows into the details formed by the treatment model.
Working quickly, the doctor inserts the tray into your mouth over the appropriate arch. He holds it firmly in place for a moment to let the resin set-up (harden).
When the application tray is wiggled loose and removed, the mock restorations remain in place on your teeth. You get an immediate and fairly accurate depiction of what the finished dental work will look and feel like intraorally! (Please note that a mock-up is not always feasible, particularly with extensive repairs. However, the wax-up can be used to fabricate provisional restorations as an alternative.)
Finally, the mock-up is gently removed from your teeth, and work on final restorations may begin. If you are not satisfied with the results of the mock-up, adjustments can still be made before incurring the time and expense of final restorations.
When is a diagnostic wax-up used in Dana Point?
Among dentists who take this extra step to ensure patients are happy with treatment outcome, it is most commonly used in cosmetic cases. However, in Dr. Cruz’s opinion, there is a vital aesthetic element to nearly every dental treatment. He believes it is just as important to be happy with a crown or bridge as with a new set of porcelain veneers. A wax replica of your proposed treatment plan can be used for a single tooth restoration or a full denture. It can also be helpful in planning the surgical placement of dental implants.
Outcome-based dentistry with communication that lets the patient become part of the treatment planning team is just one example of Dr. Cruz’s commitment to excellence. In the Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, and South Orange County area, call (949) 661-1006 for an appointment at Mark A. Cruz, DDS in Dana Point, CA.