The Steps to Know Dental Curing Light
Monitoring the Curing Light
The dental radiometers that are currently used in dental practices measure the energy output from curing lights at the tip of the light guide. Using a radiometer and keeping a weekly log of these values will provide a valuable baseline for detecting any changes in the light’s output. However, it is important to understand that even a small distance between the tip and the resin will have an effect on how much light reaches the resin; the greater the distance, the lesser the amount of light energy that will reach the resin. You can see this effect readily if you move the tip of the dental curing light around over the dental radiometer sensor.
Delivering Enough Light Energy to the Restoration
Rarely described are the importance of correctly choosing the light tip diameter, orienting the light tip, or matching the irradiance and spectral output from the curing light to the resin composite being used, yet these factors are crucial to successful light-curing. The diameter and design of the light tip can have major implications on the area being light-cured.
Light-cured adhesives and resin-based composites polymerize based on how much light energy they receive, not on the irradiance (ie, the brightness of the light) measured at the light tip. The energy is reported in Joules/cm2. This value is calculated by multiplying the irradiance (mW/cm2) by the light exposure time (seconds). Depending on the shade and brand of composite resin, the minimum energy requirements to photopolymerize resins range from 6 J/cm2 to 24 J/cm2 for a 2-mm increment of composite.
Learning How to Use a Curing Light
Most dentists and dental assistants have never been trained in the art and science of light-curing. Many clinical technique articles typically only mention to “light-cure for xx seconds.” Using an innovative device, the MARC? Patient Simulator (Managing Accurate Resin Curing; BlueLight Analytics, www.curingresin.com), practitioners can now better understand how to optimally light-cure restorations.
Whether users are dentists, dental hygienists, dental assistants, or dental students, MARC provides operators with immediate feedback on how to optimize their technique. MARC quickly shows users how even small changes in technique can have a significant impact on the ability to deliver sufficient light energy to a resin restoration. The obvious, but often overlooked, importance of safely watching what you are doing when light-curing can be easily demonstrated using MARC.
Do not take light-curing for granted—pay attention to this vital step. Following the guidelines presented in this article will ensure safe and optimum photopolymerization of the restorations being placed in your practice. Also, by taking routine precautions such as the use of orange-colored eye protection and blue-light–blocking shields on the curing light tip, the chairside assistant and the clinician can protect their vision.
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