If you’ve decided to start your own dental practice, there are many things to think about. From finding the right premises and hiring the right staff to getting all the necessary equipment, you don’t want to overlook anything important. When it comes to equipment, there are many different items that you will have to get in order to be able to perform various services and ensure your clients are satisfied. One thing you will also need is a curing light. Here is what you should know about it and some factors to keep in mind before your purchase any.
Dental curing lights explained
As a dentist and dental care professional, you will be working with light-cured resin composites. In order to polymerize them, you will need a dental curing light. This small, hand-held piece of equipment is hovered over the spot in the mouth that has been covered with restorative material and triggered to let out light over the material until it “cures” or hardens.
The earliest lights were produced in the 1960s and 1970s. Their light was in the ultraviolet range. This was replaced by halogen lights in the ‘80s while LED curing lights appeared in the 1990s and became the preferred choice. These produce a blue light with an easily controlled wavelength. LED curing lights are portable and lightweight, with reduced heat generation, short curing times, and a longer lifespan than halogen lights.
Factors to consider before purchasing
No matter what you’re purchasing, you need to do some research. Just like you would look for a useful guide to dental burs, you should also look at which factors are important when getting a dental curing light.
The first thing you want to look at is the output power of the curing light. It’s also called brightness or irradiance. The output power is measured in mW/cm2 aka milliwatts per square centimeter and represents the amount of light the device can produce. LED curing lights typically generate more than 1,000 mW/cm2 and are able to cure most materials. In certain cases, the light can reach 2,000 mW/cm2, thus enabling it to cure thicker materials and more shades and opacities. If you’re handling direct restorations, just 400 mW/cm2 can be enough. On the other hand, to polymerize composite materials, at least 1,000 mW/cm2 is required. The best devices come with low wattage requirements and a long lifespan.
In addition to output power, you should also consider the output wavelength. It’s crucial that the wavelength of the device you pick is compatible with the restorative material’s photoinitiator. Even if there is a slight difference in the composite and wavelength compatibility, the polymerization and restoration longevity could be affected. This is measured in nanometers (nm). The range of LED curing lights is typically from 440nm to 490nm while some come with a wider range of 390nm – 490nm. Most composites are activated at either 468 nm or 429 nm. Make sure to follow the instructions closely.
Modes and programs
You should also know that modern curing lights have built-in modes that increase or decrease output, which improves polymerization efficiency. Common programs include full power, pulse, and ramp. Lower settings reduce shrinkage and are gentler while a program like ramp begins with a lower output and slowly increases it. You can also pre-set them to curing times of 5, 10, 15, or 20 seconds, meaning that you don’t have to pay attention to the clock.
Another factor that plays a role in polymerization is the diameter of the tip. The sizes are typically 4, 8, and 10 millimeters. While 4mm tips can reach further and produce greater hardness, 8mm ones meet most restoration requirements. Moreover, 10mm tips are recommended when putting sealants or resin composites on permanent molars. If there is even a small gap between the curing material and the tip of the device, the quality of cure might be affected.
Something else to think about is ergonomics. It’s important how the device feels in your hand. If it’s light and comfortable, you will be able to handle it easily. They now typically come without cords in order to provide better access.
When using a curing light, you need protective eyewear. Many LED lights are sold with orange-colored shields that prevent long-term damage to the eyes.
If you’re opening a dental practice, don’t overlook the importance of researching the best curing lights on the market.