The selection of a dental curing light that fits your style of practicing remains one of the most important equipment purchases you will make. If you have an active restorative practice, it is a device that you use virtually every time you treat a patient. 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.
Curing lights allow us to initiate the polymerization reaction “on demand” for a vast array of materials. However, there is, perhaps, more misinformation and hype regarding this type of equipment compared to just about anything else we use on a daily basis. Most of these controversies center on how long you have to cure specific types of restorations as well as how deep you can cure specific types of materials.
Manufacturers continue to make outlandish claims of their curing capabilities, most of which fall into the “too good to be true” category. An example is the claim that a new light can accomplish a “5mm depth of cure in 3 seconds”. Please don’t be fooled by these ads – you absolutely, positively cannot cure a composite in three seconds.
If you undercure a restoration, for example, you may not even be aware of the negative sequelae for years. Therefore, selecting a curing light and using it properly can greatly affect the performance and longevity of your restorations.
Types of Curing Lights
Use a halogen bulb as the source of light.
+ Reliable – long track record
+ Cures all materials due to wide bandwidth (400nm-510nm)
– Requires a cord due to power consumption
– Cooling fans are necessary and can be noisy
Bulb is really an aluminum oxide, high pressure vessel, which contains highly energized xenon gas (plasma) under 150psi. The inside shape is specific to reflect light arcing between two electrodes. Arc is only about 1mm long, enabling a very focused beam.
+ Very fast (when a small tip is used)
– Large base units
– May not cure all materials
– Requires a cord that may be liquid-filled, may be stiff, and can degenerate over time
Generates light when energy is applied to an atom raising an electron to a higher, unstable energy level. Electron will return to stable level by releasing light through a medium of argon gas.
LED (Light Emitting Diode)
Special diodes (electronic devices that restrict current flow chiefly to one direction) that emit light when connected in a circuit.