I love things that make my dental life easier. The Optragate by Ivoclar is one of them. What is it? It’s sort of like a rubber dam with a big opening in the middle and a built-in flexible frame. It simply retracts the lips and cheeks with a very comfortable non-latex “o-ring” of sorts. It also helps the patient stay open. They are one-time use / disposable.
It’s wonderful for anterior work of any kind, giving you a wide-open access and view. I also like it for those full-arch preps. My assistant doesn’t have to worry about doing any retraction. She can focus on suction and keeping my mirror clear.
One thing that the Optragate is really handy for is taking full-arch impressions. I’m sure you’ve struggled with getting a full-arch tray in quickly and “cleanly.” By cleanly, I mean not smearing half the impression material on the patient’s face on the way in. You end up with drags and voids, as a result, not to mention a mess on the patient’s face. Even if your assistant tries to retract the patient’s lips, it just never works out very well. It’s still a mess, and you wait and hope the impression comes out OK.
This technique is especially awesome with patients who have facial hair (mustaches / beards). Have you ever dealt with VPS impression material in a big bushy mustache? Ugh!
With the Optragate in place, you can literally insert a full-arch impression with one hand, unimpeded. It goes in straight without bumping into the lips or cheeks. It’s a one-person, one-handed operation. And, then you can seat it vertically over the teeth / preps, preventing drags and voids.
Just today I used an Optragate to take an anterior triple-tray impression for two prepped central incisors. It’s is flexible enough that the patient can close all the way into maximum intercuspation. But, the patient would probably get tired. So, I leave the Optragate in place while I cleanly insert the loaded triple-tray. I have the patient close as usual. Then I slip the Optragate out easily, leaving the impression in place.
Another great time to use an Optragate is cementing several units of porcelain to a full arch of porcelain. Again… no fumbling trying to hold the lips and cheeks out of the way while you’re simultaneously trying to visualize the target tooth and hold onto the restoration as it’s put to place. With the Optragate, it’s easy and stress-free.
What about when dealing with dental implant hardware? Trying to retract lips while placing implant abutments and using implant wrenches is a big PITA. The Optragate comes to the rescue here, too! When you have unhindered access and visibility, stress goes down.
I also use the Optragate while bonding orthodontic brackets. I’m sure you’ll find some great uses for it, too.
For posterior quadrant restorative work, I like to use the amazing Isolite. Click here to read the Dental Warrior’s review of the Isolite.
The Optragate comes in three sizes: Pedo, Adult-small, and Adult-regular. I use the small size for most women patients and some men. The “regular” is really for large mouths. It’s very comfortable for most patients and does not induce a gag reflex. It reduces stress on the dentist and assistant. For that matter, I think it reduces the patient’s stress, too. Today, I had a patient request it!
Bottom line: They cost about $1.18 each. Well worth it! I believe they are available from most of the major dental suppliers.
The Dental Warrior recommends the Optragate to his brothers and sisters in arms. Give it a try! You and your assistant will like it!