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The many uses of dental wax

Dental wax makes an important material in dentistry as it provides benefits to making for example crowns, bridges, prostheses and dentures.  Dental wax  mainly used in three situations:

  • Making molds that give the shape to to the final crowns and bridges;
  • Determining the required shape of crowns, dentures and prostheses;.
  • Making models that can  fitted and easily altered when needed.

The 3 types – Dental pattern, processing and impression wax

Dental wax is generally a thermoplastic system which appears in a solid form in room temperature. When the temperature rises, the wax takes a liquid phase. Waxes do not have an exact melting point, but they rather have a melting range.

Even though the waxes behave in a similar way in different temperatures, there are numerous different products for the different purposes and situations we described in the beginning. The table below shows the three types dental wax can  divided into as well as more specific products that fall under each group of waxes.

1. Impression wax

The dental impression wax  used for determining the required shape of crowns, dentures and prostheses in order to guarantee a perfectly fitting product that causes no discomfort to the patient. The waxes used are bite registration and corrective waxes.

  • Corrective wax: used to restore the selected area in edentulous patients mouths and reproduce the detail of mucous membrane.
  • Bite registration wax: used to record the relationship of the upper and lower teeth of patients. Dental wax sheets and sticks are the most common means of doing so.

Note that impressions can also  made using silicone based dental putty.

2. Processing wax

Processing wax in dentistry refers to products used in making castings or during soldering. There are several types of processing waxes including boxing, sticky and utility waxes.

  • Sticky wax: extremely sticky when melted and it adheres well to metals and ceramic materials. Sticky wax  used for aligning fractured parts of dentures, aligning fixed partial dentures prior to soldering and holding two fractured pieces together until they can  repaired.
  • Boxing wax: a soft, pliable wax used for forming a wax box around an impression before it is poured with gypsum. Boxing wax comes in wax stripes which form a box with high enough edges to keep the liquid gypsum in place.
  • Block-out wax: a special wax for blocking out cavities and rough surfaces in cast metal denture preparation.

3. Pattern wax

Pattern wax is the one that  used for making patterns and ensuring that they are the right ones for the patient. The use of dental pattern wax is close to the one of impression wax, however, here the single point is to capture and create the pattern for dental reconstruction. The products include inlay wax, milling wax, base plates and modeling wax.

dental modeling wax in a gypsum model
Base plate is a dental wax used for making patterns for prostheses.
  • Inlay wax: used for fabrication of occlusal surfaces of dentures, crowns and bridges. The latter are first made in inlay wax and later converted into metal and ceramic casting.
  • Base plates: traditionally pink or read dental wax sheets which  used for preparing patterns for prostheses. These also used  making metal dentures, only  the color  usually green allowing the possible markings  the metal to remain visible.
  • Modeling wax: dental modeling wax, also known as casting wax,  made for creating models of prostheses and bridges that can  fitted into the patient’s mouth and easily altered where needed. For CAD/CAM processes the wax is sometimes replaced by PMMA, a glass-like transparent plastic.




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