According to the American Dental Association, nearly 150 million resin-based restorations and sealants are placed every year. Almost all of these use light-cured resin-based composites. Thus, a light-curing device is now commonly found in dental practices across the country. Some assume that a “point and shoot” technique is sufficient. However, in order to achieve optimal results, dental curing lights must be used correctly. Read on to find out more about how to use a dental curing light so that the resin-based restorations you place in patients’ mouths will be as successful as manufacturers’ claims.
Energy Output of Dental Curing Lights
How a dentist uses a light-curing unit makes a large difference in the amount of energy a restoration receives. Even when the device is handled correctly, if the energy level is insufficient, then the resulting restoration may not attain expected longevity; this may explain why resin-based restorations last only five to seven years when actual life expectancy should be 15 years or more.
In a collection of articles written for ADA Professional Product Review, Jack L. Ferracane, Professor and Chair, Restorative Dentistry Division Director, Biomaterials and Biomechanics, Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, Oregon states that there is “considerable evidence that delivering inadequate energy to the restoration will result in a restoration that has less than optimal properties and poor clinical performance.”
Ferracane goes on to say that light-cured resin-based composite restorations most often need replacing because of secondary caries and restoration fracture. Other reasons include staining, marginal breakdown, wear, a broken tooth or nerve death. Inadequate delivery of light or energy to the restoration can result in the early breakdown of a light-cured restoration. Therefore, a dental curing light must deliver adequate light energy to attain the best physical, chemical, and optical properties of a resin-based composite restoration.
Viewing What You Are Curing
To ensure that patients’ RBCs achieve optimal performance, 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. Using The Orbiter® to efficiently view what you are curing can allow you to deliver superior restorations to your patients, while safely protecting your vision and the vision of your team members.