The Historical Evolution of Dental Impression Materials

J Hist Dent. 2017 Summer/Fall;65(2):79-89.


The concept of impression making process in dentistry began in the mid 1800s. Dentists realized that the construction of a prosthetic restoration required both a detailed capture of the oral tissues along with stone cast fabrications. To accomplish these goals, impression materials were essential. Beeswax represents the first impression material, while important bechmarks during the historical evolution of dental impression materials are considered to be the introduction of dental trays in the early 1800s and the invention of the gutta-percha, thermoplastic resins and plaster of Paris. The double (corrective) impression technique, along with the functional impression concept that was established after mid 1800s, are also identified as pivotal innovations. During the 20th century, the advances in material development slowed significantly since the majority of the current impression materials had already been invented. However, the introduction of elastomeric impression materials in the field of prosthodontics that offered the advantages of accuracy and dimensional stability substantially upgraded both the impression accuracy and the quality of the final restoration. Presently, the dental practitioner has access to a variety of impression materials and should be aware of their properties, indications and limitations as well. Futhermore, while continuous attempts are being made to enhance these materials, the ideal impression material has yet to be developed. The purpose of this article was to provide a comprehensive review about the historical development of impression dental materials.

Keywords: Dental History; Dental impression materials; Gutta-percha.