After taking alginate impressions of each others’ teeth in February, juniors in the Dental Assisting program began trimming their final models to create accurate bleaching trays. The alginate, a molding material that fits to the shape of a person’s teeth, is filled with plaster to create a solid model.

“Models are trimmed to get the excess plaster that builds up on the outside of the model away from the teeth to have better access,” Dental Assisting teacher Dr. Michael Georges said. “Once it’s been trimmed, you can put the teeth together and see how they bind together or you can go straight to making the bleaching tray.”

In groups of two or three at a time, Georges demonstrates the process of using the trimming machine to ensure that students avoid mistakes. For models that have a small enough hole, students may fill it up with composite material.

“When it was my turn to trim, I made sure to play close attention to what the teacher was doing,” junior Melissa Yelverton said. “The machine used for trimming has a lot of aspects that you have to attend to and make sure are set up the right way before you begin. Small mistakes can sometimes mess up the whole process if you’re not careful.”

If a student doesn’t properly trim a model, they must repeat the process of taking an impression and creating a new model.

“Out of all the things students learn their junior year,” Georges said. “This, in addition to the x-ray techniques they learned earlier, are probably the most important out of the whole program.”

Once all the students have trimmed their models, they will create a bleaching tray, which they may use to whiten their teeth. In the dental field, the models can be used to create crowns, bridges and dentures for patients.

“I’m most excited to make the bleaching trays,” junior Jessica Diep said. “I find the whole experience to be really fun, but I think being able to compare the final results of bleaching with my classmates will be the best part. All of the work we’ve been doing with our models will finally pay off.”

Are you in the Dental Assisting program?