Impressions, dentures and other dental appliances may be contaminated with oral micro-flora or other organisms of varying pathogenicity from patient's saliva and blood. Several approaches have been tried to control the transmission of infectious organisms via dental impressions and because disinfection is less effective and has several drawbacks for impression characterization, several sterilization methods have been suggested. This study evaluated the reproducibility of rubber impressions after sterilization by different methods. Dimensional accuracy and wettability of two rubber impression materials (vinyl polysiloxane and polyether) were evaluated after sterilization by each of three well-known methods (immersion in 2% glutaraldehyde for 10 h, autoclaving and microwave radiation). Non-sterilized impressions served as control. The effect of the tray material on impression accuracy and the effect of topical surfactant on the wettability were also evaluated. One-way ANOVA with Dunnett's method was used for statistical analysis. All sterilizing methods reduced the reproducibility of rubber impressions, although not always significantly. Microwave sterilization had a small effect on both accuracy and wettability. The greater effects of the other methods could usually be overcome by using ceramic trays and by spraying impression surfaces with surfactant before pouring the gypsum mix. There was one exception: glutaraldehyde still degraded dimensional accuracy even with ceramic trays and surfactant. We conclude that a) sterilization of rubber impressions made on acrylic trays was usually associated with a degree of dimensional change; b) microwave energy seems to be a suitable technique for sterilizing rubber impressions; c) topical surfactant application helped restore wettability of sterilized impressions.
- Dimensional changes