Curious about which steps you should be taking to make sure your curing light is working properly? Here’s everything you need to know.
Chris Felix, Chief Scientist
Think about the dental equipment you use on a daily basis. Which tool would you say is the most important? There may be quite a few different options that come to mind, but there is one tool that you might not think of: the curing light.
Light curing is a critical part of restorative dentistry, and yet it’s frequently the step that is left in the shadows. Many dentists assume their curing light is working properly without taking the time to test it.
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding curing lights, including that their output remains the same over time. This is simply untrue. All curing lights, no matter what level of quality they are, will degrade with use over time. The problem with this is that unless you are frequently testing your curing light, the tool you use every day could be underperforming, potentially compromising the final result.
Frequently testing curing lights should be a standard best practice in all dental offices. Unfortunately, there are many dentists who simply rely on the output that is listed in the specifications provided by the manufacturer, which give them false confidence in a curing light that may not be performing at the level it should be.
1 in 5 curing lights significantly differ from what the manufacturer states¹. Standard (ISO) lights should be within +/- 20% of the stated output. For example, if the manufacturer says the output should be 1,000 mW/cm, the only acceptable range is from 800 to 1,200 mW/cm. 1 in 4 curing lights is outside of that 20% range¹.
Underperforming curing lights can lead to negative outcomes that hurt both you and your patient. Resulting problems can include material discoloring, debonding from the tooth structure, microleakage, higher risk of fractures leading to cases of postoperative sensitivity and secondary decay.²’³
What should you do to help avoid these poor outcomes and ensure your curing light is properly functioning? Here’s a checklist that every dentist should keep handy.
In essence, curing lights are similar to cars in a couple of ways: they require frequent maintenance and care in order to help them continue to perform at a high level, and the level of output is directly related to their ability to get the job done successfully. A few of the key steps to keep in mind include cleaning them after every patient, performing daily testing, purchasing new lights as needed, as well as referring to Instructions for Use (IFU) for complete product information.
By implementing these proactive measures to keep this key tool working successfully, you will help ensure that your patients are receiving the best care possible by giving curing lights the attention they deserve and require.
1. Kringel, J. Felix, C. (2019). Is your curing light ‘bright’ enough? Dental Products Report.
2. American Dental Association. (2013). Professional Product Review: Effective Use of Curing Lights — A Guide for the Dental Practitioner. 8(2).
3. Canadian Dental Association CDA Essentials. (2014). Light Curing Guidelines for Practitioners. 1(6), 22–23
4. Halifax Consensus Statement from the 2014 Symposium on Light Curing in Dentistry, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada.