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How to Use the Dental Curing Light Correctly

Dental curing light is a light which is designed to rapidly cure a resin. Dental curing light today is a visible blue light and does not produce ultraviolet light, which would not generally be safe for you, or the patient. Curing lights provide light energy of an emission spectrum. Photo-initiators absorb this light energy and initiate chemical reactions to polymerize a composite material.

Today, almost all resin composites, dental adhesives and adhesive cements utilize light energy for complete polymerization, which further determines the long-term clinical success of a procedure. While much attention has been given to the details of diagnosis, preparation and the development of improved adhesives and resins, light curing is often taken for granted. It’s a well-accepted fact that inadequate polymerization of the materials can lead to clinical failures, such as sensitivity, marginal discoloration, fractured restorations and de-bonding issues, making it critical to select an ideal curing light.

Dental curing light can use ultraviolet or visible light, depending on what it is designed for. Both dentist and patient need to wear eye protection to limit damage to the retina for even the 20 seconds to a minute that the light is in use during rapid curing, and the light needs to be well maintained so that it will work properly and effectively. It's also important to use the right curing light for the right resin product; many lights are designed to handle a range of resins safety.

It is essential for dental professionals to view the curing light tip while they are curing. This allows the clinician to place the curing light tip in the optimal position to deliver the maximum amount of energy to the restoration being cured. Studies have shown that looking away while curing frequently allows the curing light tip to drift slightly, causing inadequate amounts of energy to be delivered to the restoration. Curing lights in use today provide very intense blue light and very short cure times, so even a slight drift reduces the amount of energy delivered to the restoration by a significant percentage.

The right light can help you achieve success, while the converse is true – the wrong light can make your efforts more tedious and your results less consistent. Even when the device is handled correctly, if the energy level is insufficient, then the resulting restoration may not attain expected longevity.

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