Science + Tech

A custom tray hack using Play-Doh

Ah, the custom tray, the standard by which the dental profession is judged. At least that’s how it sometimes seems to me when we are tested on making them in the sim lab for multiple hours and with rigorous criteria. One day we will all use triple trays, or maybe just scan our patients’ mouths and send the file off to the lab. But in the meantime, we will work with the slightly fishy-smelling triad material.

In the sim lab we took quite a while to make our custom trays perfect, down to the millimeter. Melting wax, making sure it transitioned smoothly into our perfect casts. This method definitely works, but I prefer a slightly quicker method, maybe 5-10 minutes, and forget the wax. The simplest, fastest, and (in my opinion) best custom tray is made with Play-Doh instead of wax.

Here’s a lab hack I’ve learned from a few D4s on how to make custom trays that has proven to be time efficient and easier cleanup than your traditional baseplate wax block out method.

First, take your diagnostic cast you’ll be using to fabricate a future crown or bridge on. Put a little Vaseline on your cast (optional), form your Play-Doh on all the areas you’d normally spend time placing melted wax. Then do another little layer of Vaseline if you like on top of the Play-Doh and put your triad material on in normal custom tray fashion. Don’t forget the handle!

Cure the triad for 2 minutes in your normal run-of-the-mill curing machine. Remove tray from cast and simply peel the Play-Doh out. Personally, I don’t use the Vaseline. The Play-Doh just peels off the cast and out of the tray without leaving much, if any, behind. If there is a bit of doh on your cast or tray, just run it under warm water and use a toothbrush and it will be off in a second.

Your custom tray will look cleaner, neater, and take you a fraction of the time to make. You can reuse the Play-Doh too, or mix it up with fancy colors or a little glitter for some flare. You are not only saving on materials, but putting a little twist on lab work. The possibilities are endless when it comes to using one of your favorite childhood toys.

Do you have a clinic “hack” that works for you? Tell us about it on Lab Work Wednesday! E-mail [email protected] with your idea and we’ll put you on Mouthing Off. (Note: You must be an ASDA member to blog for Mouthing Off.)

~Scott McNairy, Marquette ’16

Scott McNairy

Scott is a third-year dental student from Marquette University School of Dentistry. He is a transplant from California, but has adjusted to the midwest life well. He has a history of graphics design and has compiled short children's books for his children. Scott is happily married and a father of three. He hopes to return to California after graduation and own a practice on the beach where he can surf during his lunch breaks.

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