Wax build-up technique
The term wax build-up technique describes dental technical procedures for waxing up the exterior contours of crowns and bridge units when fabricating prosthetic restorations in the laboratory. Functionally correct design of the occlusal surfaces of the posterior teeth is particularly important for cast restorations. Depending on the school of thought (e.g. P.K. Thomas, Lundeen/Payne, Polz, Schulz), various tooth-to-tooth relationships, occlusal concepts, cusp-to-fossa relationships and contact area patterns are preferred.
The various anatomical structures (such as cusp tips and slopes as well as marginal ridges) are usually built up one after another by adding small portions of wax (often using differently coloured waxes for didactic purposes).
The firm, special waxes first have to be melted at room temperature. This can be carried out by warming small portions on differently shaped working tips of hand instruments in an open flame (such as a gas burner) or using electrically heated instruments which provide for more accurate temperature control and avoid contamination (e.g. electric wax-knife, induction heaters, wax dipping units). The wax is applied drop-by-drop to ensure that the warmer molten wax added last fuses seamlessly with the firm, cooler material. After hardening, the wax pattern can be reduced by sculpting, milling guidance surfaces or drilling to add retainers.
Modern procedures include flexible, occlusal preforms for adding contours to soft wax. In addition, wax preforms, such as for occlusal surfaces or bridge pontics, are available in various shapes and sizes. Recently, irreversible, light-curing materials have been introduced for use instead of reversible thermoplastic waxes.
To ensure that the wax pattern can be released without being damaged, model surfaces, opposing dentition and preparations must be hardened/sealed with special lacquer (applied by spraying, brushing or dipping). These waxes are mostly relatively rigid/elastic after cooling.
Attaching wax sprues to a removable framework supported on double crowns using a hand instrument
When employing the lost wax technique, prefabricated wax sprues, bars and reservoirs are attached to the patterns. Once the pattern has been released and its sprues waxed onto the crucible former, it is invested in a casting ring with refractory investment material. The wax can then be burnt out residue-free and casting completed.
Unlike standard wax build-up techniques, a diagnostic wax-up is not intended for fabricating an indirect restoration, but rather for simulating the appearance and/or external contouring for producing orientation templates.