Ask Dr. Christensen

April 1, 2002
In this monthly feature, Dr. Gordon Christensen addresses the most frequently asked questions from Dental Economics readers.

by Gordon J. Christensen, DDS, MSD, PhD

In this monthly feature, Dr. Gordon Christensen addresses the most frequently asked questions from Dental Economics readers. If you would like to submit a question to Dr. Christensen, please send an email to [email protected].

Question ...
I have heard that the automated impression material systems have some advantages. I have looked into them, and they seem large and cumbersome. Is this concept really worth incorporating into my practice?

Answer from Dr. Christensen ...
The first popular automated impression material concept was the Pentamix system from ESPE, which was introduced a few years ago. Subsequently, 3M and ESPE merged to become 3M ESPE. Now the Pentamix 2 is the most popular automated device on the international dental market. Because of the popularity of the concept, other systems are now available. Why would a dentist be interested in using such a system when self-mixing syringes are available at a significantly lower cost? Here are some reasons why this concept has been so well-accepted:

• A single device can be purchased and placed in a central location in the office. In most offices, there is a central location that is usually only a few feet away from the operatories.

• The unsterile, self-mixing syringes that all of us have used for several years are eliminated. The simple activation switch on the Pentamix 2 can be covered with a piece of plastic wrap to avoid cross-contamination among patients.

• The impression material is always mixed thoroughly and quickly.

• Most self-mixing syringes force you to waste a significant amount of impression material that is left in the mixing tip when it is thrown away. A much smaller amount of impression material is thrown away in the Pentamix 2 mixing tip.

• The amount of material in a self-mixing cartridge is small when compared to the large reservoir of impression material in the automated systems. Therefore, the time from filling one device to the next is reduced with an automated system.

Although I was skeptical about the usefulness of the automated devices when they were first introduced, I am amazed to note that almost every dentist who buys an automated system likes it. I suggest that you look into this concept. It has significant value from several standpoints.

Two recent Practical Clinical Courses videos demonstrate how to accomplish high-quality fixed prosthodontics efficiently: V1990 – "Multiple-Unit Fixed Prosthdontics–Edition 2" and C101A – "The Perfect Impression." Contact us at (800) 223-6569.

Question ...
Is tongue scraping really necessary? It seems that a patient could accomplish the same result with a toothbrush.

Answer from Dr. Christensen ...
Toothbrushing is accomplished my most people once or twice a day. They have been taught by dentists and dental hygienists to understand that if dental plaque is removed from their teeth on a regular basis, the chance for dental decay to begin is greatly reduced. It is amazing to me that the same patients do not realize that on their tongue resides far more organisms than on their teeth. Various research projects estimate that about 50 percent of patients need to clean their tongue on a routine basis once or twice per day. The gray-green debris that accumulates on their tongue can identify those people easily. Patients with debris on their tongue usually have bad breath. Ninety percent of bad breath is estimated to be caused by debris on the tongue. Brushing the tongue with a toothbrush is not as adequate as using a tongue scraper, because you are just moving the debris around instead of scraping it off. An example of an excellent, inexpensive tongue scraper is the OOLITT®-Elite from OOLITT® Advantage, Inc., (877) 332-7500.

I suggest that you observe the dorsal surface of your patients' tongues. If they have gray-green debris on their tongue, they usually have bad breath, so they need to use a tongue scraper. It should be used with gentle force on the tongue once or twice a day, depending on how much accumulation of debris is present. I would never discourage patient from either brushing or scraping their tongues.

A Practical Clinical Courses video demonstrates the concept and use of tongue cleaning, C998B – "Tongue Cleaning Is Here." Contact us at (800) 223-6569, or at visit our Web site at

For a review of questions and answers from Dr. Christensen over the past few months, please visit

Dr. Christensen is a practicing prosthodontist in Provo, Utah. He is the founder and director of Practical Clinical Courses, an international continuing-education organization for dental professionals initiated in 1981. Dr. Christensen is a co-founder (with his wife, Rella) and senior consultant of Clinical Research Associates, which, since 1976, has conducted research in all areas of dentistry and publishes its findings to the dental profession in the well-known CRA Newsletter. He is an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. Dr. Christensen has educational videos and hands-on courses on the above topics available through Practical Clinical Courses. Call (800) 223-6569 or (801) 226-6569.

Dr. Christensen's views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial staff at Dental Economics.

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