Monday, July 30, 2012



I hope everyone is surviving this hot summer. Here in Florida, we are seeing temperatures up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit!!

I will give you a quick update on my house. If you remember, we had the “mother of all floor leaks” back in February. e just got the new floors down , along with a new kitchen countertop. The only thing left is putting the baseboards back down. My wife is sanding and restaining all of them before we (she) put them back on. I know what you are thinking. “Why are you making her do it?” Listen, I have to buy her new shop tools at least twice a year. I am lucky if I can say I own my own screwdriver, but that is a blog for another day.

I was thinking about technology this week and how far dentistry has come over the last 100 years. I teach at the local dental assisting college, and I always give the students a history lesson in dental materials. Today, we work under microscopes with high tech instruments, lasers, CAD/CAM computers, digital radiographs, rotary endo files and 3D cone beam images, just to name a few. Then, there is alginate. The stuff works great, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like I’m working in the dark ages when I use it.

This revelation became very clear to me a few days ago when I decided to make an alginate impression on a patient. I usually have one of my assistants do it because, frankly , they are much better at it than I am. Everything started out well. I remembered somewhere in the back of my head that you had to place the water in the bowl first, so I made sure I had the measuring cup of water filled right to the 3rd line. I even knelt down to eye-level with it to make sure. I very methodically measured my 3 scoops of powder, making sure I had a perfect level with each scoop. I picked up the bowl and introduced the spatula into my perfect mixture. With the very first whip of my hand, at least half of the powder came out of the bowl onto the counter. I heard a snicker from my assistant.

I very calmly cleaned everything up (while talking to my patient about my new floors as a distraction). My 2nd mixture (yes, there will be more), was measured perfectly again. This time I was careful not to spill the powder. After about 10 whips with the spatula, the alginate was completely set up. Now, not only was my assistant laughing, but the patient had joined her. At least this time it was easy to clean up because it was just one hard chunk. The 3rd time was a charm! I loaded my tray quickly and placed it into the patient’s mouth, being ever so gentle. Then, out of nowhere, the patient hacked vigorously.

I wasn’t about to let go (all I could think about was a bull rider having to hold on for 8 seconds). At this point, “something” came flying out of her mouth, headed right for me. I instantly did one of those “Matrix” backbends, the kind where you bend 90 degrees backwards and 2 seconds takes about 5 minutes. The “substance” flew right over my face and hit the wall behind me. Is this real? I didn’t even know my body could move like that!!

The impression turned out okay, but my assistants have banned me from touching the alginate again. What a mess! I can’t think of any other procedure I do where I have to hand a patient a roll of paper towels while I excuse myself to go change my clothes. It’s time we invent an alternative!!

Have a great week.



Anonymous said...

Funny..I know exactly what you mean..

Anonymous said...

Ha ha. I always look forward to reading your stories.
Alginate is one reason I decided to specialize.

Parkway Dental said...

So true, there has to be a better way. Alginate is so messy and hard to deal with.


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