Dental Impressions

Thursday Troubleshooter: Dentist won't throw out lab models. What to do?

Aug. 7, 2014
Dental practice employee is tired of lab models piling up in the office. What do the experts suggest>

QUESTION: How do you deal with the models from lab work after insertion? My dentist insists on keeping the bags in case we need to send the crown(s) back for more contact, repair, etc. This makes sense, but it really piles up! Help!

There is an accepted rule of keeping dental records and models for up to seven years. The models are generally stored for this amount of time unless the doctor feels that it is a big involved implant case and wants to keep the models indefinitely. You can ask the lab to remove the models from the articulator when the case is completed and discard any unnecessary material. You don’t need to preserve any of the impressions, wax bites, empty pillboxes, or bulky wrapping. If you remove the models from the articulator yourself, I suggest you send them back to the lab since they are expensive.

ANSWER FROM CHRIS SALIERNO, DDS, Chief Editor, Dental Economics Magazine.
Once a crown has been cemented/bonded permanently to a tooth, I throw away the models. If I need to redo the crown, I'll be taking a new impression anyway so there's no need to keep the old models. Implant restorations are a slightly different story. I will typically throw away cases that are one to three units in length (after salvaging the replicas, of course). But I typically preserve models for larger implant cases. It's nice to have an implant-level or abutment-level model lying around when I need a repair. I also hold onto any provisionals that were used with the case for the same reason. Porcelain and acrylic fractures become relatively simple fixes when you have a temp ready to go and a model that's still accurate.

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