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Tips for Perfect Wax Bite Records

By Dr. Shannon Johnson

Obtaining an accurate bite record that will allow a precise mounting is crucial for treatment planning.  Many products exist that are very accurate, yet they do not easily allow a precise mounting.  Such is the case with many PVS bite records.

The Dawson Academy prefers the “blue (Denar*) wax” for several reasons. 

  • Cross arch stability.  A quality bite record will have no give or rock in any direction. 

  • Dimensionally stable.  Once chilled, the record is easily stored in water for storage and transportation. 

  • Brittle hard when chilled.  There is no give in the material—it fits or it will break.  There is no fudging.  

  • Accurate, without being obnoxiously so.  There is a point where a bite record material could possibly be too accurate, especially in the occlusal grooves and gingival margins where bubbles on models abound. 

wax prebending

 

Learning to work with any material can be a trying experience.  Here are a few tips to help break the learning curve faster.  

1. Play with a piece of wax and torch and learn its properties.  Think about Goldilocks.  A little too hot…what does it take to overheat the wax to the point it begins to drip.  A little too cold…under-heat the material and try to bend or cut it -it will break.  Ah, just right—the wax will indent and bend with ease.  Without learning the extremes, it can be difficult to know when the heat is just right!

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2. Look at the arch before you begin the record.  I mean, really look.  Remember that the wax has memory.  Is there a rollercoaster for an occlusal plane?  Is there a really deep Curve of Spee?  Perhaps you should preheat and pre-bend the wax to reduce memory.  You do this by overheating the wax across the arch and bend the wax to the degree of the Curve of Spee.  Allow it to cool.  If the wax stays bent, you have successfully overcome the memory. Proceed with your bite record.

3. Wax comes in a tapered version or a non tapered version.  When utilizing a lucia jig for your bite record, there will be times that the posterior teeth are separated too much to use a tapered version.  Make sure you stock both varieties to help eliminate frustration.  

4. Always, always, and again, always chill the final wax bite in cold water to remove any heat in the wax and verify in the patient’s mouth (1) there is NO rock, front to back or left to right, and (2) the patient cannot perceive any tooth hitting first or any slide into the chilled wax.  

5. Make sure the wax is still warm before you begin trimming the record.  A heated trimming instrument may help as well.  Both will prevent breaking the record.  Remember than any time the wax is altered with a heated instrument, you MUST chill and re-verify that record in the mouth again.  

6. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition.  Take a lot of bite records.  In my residency program, we took “blue wax” CR bites on all restorative patients—even those we were treating in maximum intercuspation!  It is great practice and all you have to tell the patient is that you are taking a bite record.  It is a great way to build confidence before getting to the more complex cases.  We all know that confidence is necessary to present and perform successful dental care.  Start building yourself some—one record at a time.  

7. Store the wax record by allowing it to float in a plastic baggie full of water.  If it is left in a cup or bowl, the water can evaporate and leave a dry record.  This may have a detrimental effect.  

8. Don’t ask the wax to do more than is possible.  Sometimes, you just have to make occlusion rims.  

* Denar Wax is now available from Whip Mix Corporation.

Dr. Johnson grew up in a small coal-mining town in Kentucky. She excelled academically and eventually earned her doctorate from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry. Today, she is one of only a few dentists to be appointed as an Academic Advisor for the prestigious Dawson Center for the Advancement of Dentistry where she assists in training other dentists regarding new clinical techniques and advances. Dr. Johnson and her husband, Jason Johnson (an IT professional), have been married five years and have a beautiful daughter.