how to take a perfect dental impression

Checked and updated for accuracy on 02/05/23

Nervous about taking your dental impression? If you mess up your dental impression don’t hit the panic button!

We make taking your dental impression easy, quick and stress free. Follow our video as we take our impression together. If your first dental impression doesn’t go very well, simply contact us. We will ship out a new dental impression kit to you free of charge. At Sentinel Mouthguards, we want to see you smile! Remember, do not take a dental impression if you have loose teeth, loose dental work or braces. Seriously, putty and braces do not mix.

What does a great dental impression look like?

A great dental impression captures a clear representation of the anatomy of your teeth and gum margin. It should be free of distortion and you should not be able to see the tray through the putty.

example of a great dental impression
All of the teeth are captured. No distortion. Teeth are not hitting the edge of the tray. Wisdom teeth are present here in the picture but are not typically included in the night guard UNLESS dentist has advised that the wisdom teeth be included.
dental impression is too shallow
Example 1 | Common mistakes while taking your dental impression | Too shallow
dental impression common mistakes example 2
Example 2 | Common mistakes | Teeth hit the tray |
taking dental impression not mixed thoroughly example 3
Blue and white putty not mixed thoroughly | Example 3 | Common mistakes |

Most common errors when taking your own dental impression

  1. Attempting to take your dental impression before reading through all of the material and watching the video. Be sure to read our how it works page, and take a look at the instructions you receive in the mail first.
  2. Taking too long to mix the dental putty. As a result, the putty becomes hard before you submerge all of your teeth. Remember to set a timer and watch your time! Mix quickly and thoroughly for 40 seconds to 1 minute. Roll the putty quickly into a hot dog shape and place it in the tray. With your finger, smooth out the areas as needed so you have a nice, equally-distributed surface before submerging your teeth.
  3. Misjudging the tray position and hitting your teeth on the plastic wall. Here’s a great tip: practice taking the empty tray in and out of your mouth several times before actually taking your dental impression. Stand in front of a mirror and pretend that the tray is already filled with dental putty. Try to keep the tray as straight as possible. Place the tray in your mouth and then push the bottom of the tray upwards (in a uniform, even manner). If you’re taking an impression for your lower teeth, follow the same process- You would just press the tray downwards instead of up. Make sure to submerge all of your teeth.
  4. Moving the tray once the teeth are submerged. This will result in a distorted dental impression, and thus, an ill-fitting mouth guard. Remember to submerge all of the teeth and stay still for the full 3 minutes before taking your teeth impression out. Even if you’re drooling all over–KEEP STILL!  
  5.  Taking your tray out too soon. Removing the tray before the putty is completely set can cause some distortion. Remember, 3 minutes!

Sentinel Mouthguards® Dental Impression Kit

We have a high success rate of customers taking their impression correctly on their first try. Over 90% of customers take their impression perfectly the first time. Also, one of the greatest things about taking a nice, clean impression of your teeth is that we keep your dental impression/stone mold on file in the Sentinel lab for 1 year! This means, we can make and remake your future night guards (provided your dental anatomy has not changed).


sentinel mouthguards author
Ashely Notarmaso

Ashely Notarmaso is the author behind the Sentinel Mouth Guard Blog. She is the CEO and founder of Sentinel Mouth Guards (Founded in 2012) Her long-time work in the dental mouth guard arena and her excellent ability to listen to customer concerns in this often contradictory field has laid the groundwork to explore night guard/mouth guard fabrication in-depth and address real concerns. With the help of her team, she has created a unique fabrication method that promises a great fitting custom oral appliance every time. Amazon’s choice for #1 mouth guard! Visit the online store

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