Magic moments

Oct. 1, 2009
by Karen Kaiser, RDH

by Karen Kaiser, RDH
[email protected]

An illusionist performs magic acts which often astound the anticipating audience. From clever card tricks to pulling a rabbit out of a top hat, watching the performance has one trying to figure out how the illusion was achieved. As luck would have it, I have a patient who performs mystifying rope and card tricks chairside at his dental recare visits. He has not revealed how the illusions are carried out, and he never ceases to amaze me with his talents. Like in magic, dental hygiene often uses products that amazingly transform.

In the hygiene operatory, sometimes we are called upon to take tray impressions using alginate. If this task is not performed routinely, recalling exact mix to material ratios produces stress for some hygienists. Needing to redo impressions can take up precious chair time. Most alginate material is rapid set and can go from a yogurt consistency to an unyielding mold in minutes.

Some factors can alter the set time of impressions and must be kept in mind. Warmer water and warmer room temperatures can accelerate alginate powders and cause the mix to set up rather quickly. Unfortunately, this may cause the alginate to set solid in the tray even before it reaches the patient’s mouth. Using cooler temperatures results in a slower set.

The question remains: What guide can the clinician use to gauge how to process the alginate mix with expertise? Thankfully, dental companies have addressed this dilemma of guessing the setting time and have made impression taking less of an illusion.

Several manufacturers use color-changing technology to take the guesswork out of the setting time of their products. When using a color-changing material, clinicians can see the different color indicators that the material goes through from beginning to end as the alginate sets.

During the start of the mix (during spatulation), the alginate may be purple. As time advances, the material may change from purple to a lighter pink shade. During the pink color phase, the alginate is loaded into the sized tray and is the consistency of a mound of mashed potatoes. When the alginate is ready to be seated, the material may change to a light blue (Algimax Alginate, Pozzi Dental) or white shade (Cavex Color Change Alginate) for final set, depending on the brand chosen. Heraeus offers Xantalgin Crono Fast alginate, which goes from a blue to purple to pink-white transition as it sets.

Some color-changing alginates are not only color-changers, but they come flavored. Parkell makes a TriPhasix alginate in a French vanilla flavor. Zhermack has a unique color-phase alginate that starts off red when mixing the alginate, turns orange while loading the tray, and then turns yellow when ready to seat and set ... like the colors of a vivid sunset. This product has a tropical fruit mango flavor.

In addition, when hygiene work storage space is limited, Dux Dental makes storage in the operatory ideal for its color-change alginate by eliminating the need for a separate scoop and large canister by offering convenient single-arch, premeasured packets.

Magic moments occur when an illusionist makes an object seemingly disappear. Making patient hypersensitivity disappear can be a magic moment when applying Vanish XT extendedcontact fluoride varnish. The patient can anticipate relief on exposed dentin, and a protective barrier on orthodontic brackets and partially erupted molars. This tooth-colored varnish releases the benefits of tooth-preserving phosphates, calcium, and fluoride. Vanish XT is a viscous material with equal parts that are dispensed onto a mixing pad, and then can be brushed onto the surfaces to be light cured.

Take the guesswork out of tricky treatment. Consider using transforming products for ease of use and application and be magically amazed.

The author did not receive compensation for products mentioned.

About the Author

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis’ Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at [email protected].