Tools of the trade: Vaseline

A common tool of the trade – Vaseline

by Dr John Chiang, Picton Dental, Picton, NSW


I have read Tools of the Trade for years now, and always enjoyed the reviews of cheap generic products. It’s easy to rave about a $200,000 cone-beam CT scanner and how it improves our dentistry but it is also interesting to read about the ingenious ways dentists use everyday products. I have found Vaseline to be a very useful product.


What’s good about it

It’s pretty basic—Vaseline lubricates and stops things sticking together. When I was a dental student, we used it on patients’ lips to prevent cracking. Since then I’ve found many other uses for it.

A coating on chrome casting clasps and rest areas at try-in helps with seating and unseating. I also apply it to chrome rest areas when retro-fitting composite fillings.

A layer of Vaseline on my finger when moulding temporary inlay/onlay material onto a tooth will stop it from sticking. Likewise, a thin layer applied to a matrix band will stop GIC from sticking during band removal.

I also apply it very lightly with a micro-brush around the external margin of crowns and bridges to help clean luting material, especially in interproximal areas. It makes flossing through much easier as well.

I rely on Vaseline multiple times a day and there’s never any need to be stingy. And it’s dirt cheap to purchase compared to other dental products.


What’s not so good

It’s hard to find anything negative about this product. It’s cheap, readily available and effective.


Where did you get it

Any chemist or supermarket.


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  1. The downside is that it is a petroleum product and unsuitable for aged patients. Have you considered Lucas’ Paw paw ointment instead? It is still dirt cheap, available in all supermarkets (red tube or tub) and gentle enough for a baby’s bottom and a geriatric mouth. I recommend it regularly for prevention of angula chelitis in over 50’s with first signs of drooped mouth angles to stop the cracking before it starts and use it on all patient’s before stretching their mouths.


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