How to Handle Bad Impressions



In this digital age the vast majority of impressions for restorations are still taken the same way they were decades ago; using impression trays and an impression material. As a result, we sometimes get bad impressions which forces us to have potentially uncomfortable discussions with our customers.   


Remove the Blame 

My first suggestion is to remove the blame and focus on seeking a solution instead. An easy way to do this to place the blame on the materials or process, for example: 

  • “it looks like it may have had some distortion,”  
  • “maybe it didn’t mix properly or was contaminated,” or  
  • “it may have been a temperature problem.”  


This approach offers two benefits; removing the blame and putting the technician in a place to advise on the best path forward to success. It’s best to be honest and communicate to the doctor the odds that a less-than-perfect impression has of working. If you are sure that there will be problems then advise that you don’t think it will work as hoped.  


Offer Alternatives 

If the doctor has extenuating circumstances and really wants you to work with what has been sent in you might agree to proceed but be sure to manage expectations and advise that if it needs to be remade there will be a charge. Offer an alternative like a transfer coping to check margins and then that coping can be picked up in a new impression to proceed. Or possibly offer to make a temporary so that the problem can be addressed and the doctor and patient will have an esthetic temporary restoration to wear while the final is being completed on a new impression. Sometimes having to make a new temp or needing to have something that looks esthetic in the mouth is why they push back on re-impressioning.  


Address the Root Cause 

Once you have solved the immediate question of how to proceed you will want to address any problems that you feel may have led to the bad impression to avoid this in the future; it could be a tray selection that was mis-sized or too flexible or even specific to the material. Always try to offer suggestions for better future outcomes. Everyone wants to do a good job with as little trouble as possible, share success stories to help build future success for you and your clients. Remember if your client thrives then you thrive. 

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