Optragate for Full Arch Prep & Impression

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.

Optragate - dental isolation

This is how the Optragate is packaged and how it looks out of the package.

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.

The Optragate gives a nice clear view of the entire arch.

Optragate retraction

The Optragate offers easy access to anteriors and posteriors simultaneously.

Full arch view with Optragate

You can reach every tooth, making for much more efficient work flow and reduced stress.


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.

Optragate impression

With the Optragate, placing a full-arch impression tray is an easy, one-handed operation. No muss! No fuss!  This is a photo taken immediately after the impression was inserted.  This photo was taken during the actual impression for the case you’re seeing here.  Notice how the impression material stays in the tray (and not on the patients lips or face).

With the Optragate in place, ALL the impression material goes where it’s supposed to go.

Optragate Impression results

Impression porn!  The Optragate helps make impressions like this easy!

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!

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26 Responses to Optragate for Full Arch Prep & Impression

  1. Bruce Hagelthorn says:

    I love the Optragate, especially for full arch impressions. Nice write-up, Mike

  2. 75% of my customers use this product – I highly recommended this product!

    Warren Bobinski
    The Everything Dental Guy.
    Success in Dentistry and Life.

  3. The Dental Warrior says:

    Thanks for the comments, Bruce and Warren. I think this is one of those “best kept secrets” in dentistry. Your percentage of use is amazing, Warren… and probably speaks of your relationship with your clients. But, I believe most dentists are NOT aware of this product. And, it could make their daily work flow much easier and less stressful.

  4. Mark Frias says:

    Easier and less stress is the key : ).

  5. Mark Frias says:

    How well would this product work in conjunction with the Isolite? As a hygienist, I use the Isolite when I use my cavitron and prophyjet (primarily on ortho patients). With the prophyjet I use my fingers to retract the patient’s lips and block the spray. I’m thinking the Isolite/Optragate combo will work well.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      I’ve heard of the two being used in combination. But, I haven’t tried it yet. Would probably work very well for cavitron / prophyjet use.

  6. Cris Duval says:

    The Optragate is a “must have” for hygienists as well! It makes doing perio therapy, using a laser and ozone a breeze. The Optragate lifts the lips and cheeks out of the way increasing your view and accessability.

  7. Optragate + Isolite is sweet.

    With impressions I have had latex contamination of my preps from the oprtagate that inhibited the setting of my PVS impression materials. Its happened more than once. If your careful to rinse off the teeth and keep the optragate away from the teeth after rinsing, then there is no problem and it is a great adjunct to full arch impressions.

    • The Dental Warrior says:

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thanks for chiming in. I believe the contamination you’re speaking of is coming from your gloves (and that is a valid concern). And, I’ve seen that happen, too. It’s not the Optragate. I say this because the Optragate is non-latex.

      • Jonathan says:

        My post should have read “latex-like”. I have definitely had some impressions that failed to set following use of the optragate and the optragate use seems to be the only variable to explain the failure to set of the PVS. It would be a simple test. Squire PVS some on a recently opened oprtagate. See if it sets in the anticipated time. I’ll do it and let you know. Enjoying the blog so far.

        • The Dental Warrior says:

          Let me know… if I don’t beat ya to the test! 🙂 Should be interesting. I haven’t had that problem, yet. But, it could be because I usually power-wash my preps before impressing, anyway. Good stuff to know at any rate.

  8. Alan Mead says:

    Mike and others…

    I want to love this product but I have a hard time putting it in? Any suggestions? I place arch and a half rubber dams all day long but just don’t have the hang of getting this thing in place! It always wants to slip off the top or bottom lip.



  9. Alan Mead says:

    O.K. I think I know what my problem is. I think I’m trying to use the “regular” size and it’s too big. I’ll try the smalls tomorrow.

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  15. Nick says:

    The Optragate is awesome! Really helps !

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