Dental implants have become an increasingly important service for many dental practices but treatment requires extensive planning and preparation to be successful. This includes correctly managing the soft tissue contours which is critical for esthetics and hygiene, and for the health of these tissues. Some dentists will spend significant time shaping provisional implants or placing customized healing abutments to help contour the soft tissues. A good dental lab can facilitate this process by producing soft tissue models.
Dental laboratories will frequently construct soft tissue models when fabricating implant supported restorations and prostheses, helping create a properly shaped implant restoration. A skilled and experienced technician is also more able to correctly design the pontics of an implant-supported bridge to provide the correct amount of gingival support.
The Importance of a Soft Tissue Model for Restorations
Dental technicians are all too aware of the importance of the emergence profile in replicating the natural esthetics of a tooth while ensuring it is easy for the patient to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Unless the technician pays attention to creating the correct emergence profile, the surrounding soft tissues may suffer from inadequate support. When correctly replicated, the emergence profile ensures better long-term gingival health. To do this, the technician needs to be able to clearly see the gingival margin and must know the thickness of the soft tissues.
An ordinary plaster model is sectioned, providing individual dyes that are then ditched to clearly expose the margins on the dye. This allows the technician to precisely wax up and finish the restoration to the abutment. As a result, all information about the surrounding tissue depth is lost but a soft tissue model ensures this valuable information is retained. The depth of the soft tissue can vary depending on any bone loss and on the placement of the implant. Soft tissue depths can be 6mm or even more. Frequently, the width of the implant is far less than the required cervical width of the restoration. With a soft tissue model, it is far more straightforward for the technician to determine where additional porcelain needs to be placed in the cervical region. Use of a soft tissue model also ensures placement of the restoration is smooth and more successful.
Shaping Pontics to Provide Gingival Support
In nature, teeth emerge from the gums. Creating an ovate pontic closely replicates this appearance while providing adequate support for the gingival tissues. This helps minimize the risk of unsightly “black triangles” that can result when there are open embrasures. Even if gum recession is ongoing, maintaining the proper emergence profile will help to better support the tissues. While it is possible for a technician to shape the pontic using a hard plaster model, it is all too easy to remove too much material or too little, leaving an unsightly gap that can easily result in the need for chairside alterations or a second appointment. A soft tissue model can provide more detailed information on the correct shape of the pontics, leaving less to chance.
The Importance of a Soft Tissue Model for Removable Prostheses
Removable bar-retained prostheses can be challenging for patients to keep clean, particularly at the point where the bar connects to the abutments. If the bar is situated too closely to the soft tissues, it can be difficult to fully set and the pressure on the tissues may cause inflammation. A soft tissue model provides the technician with the information needed so the bar can be fabricated to the ideal height, increasing the patient’s prospects of good, long-term gingival health.