As technology moves forward, we start to see certain features of equipment as standard, and we start to demand these features from products . You wouldn’t dream of buying a car today without ABS (or equivalent feature), you will probably expect Bluetooth connectivity for your phone and a satellite navigation system.
We do the same with dental equipment and generally we chose these features to benefit our patient experience, enhance our capabilities or improve our working conditions. One such feature to become standard over recent years has been an LED treatment light, but does an LED treatment light necessarily improve our working conditions?
There are undoubted benefits in moving towards LED technology in our practice: less heat, no need to change halogen bulbs and a more modern appearance are undeniable benefits we can attribute to most LED light offerings in the market.
But when you are considering a new treatment light, are you also considering the quality of the light generated? In my experience this can often be overlooked. You may assume that as LED lights are a more modern technology, that the quality of light generated will be better than your ageing halogen light. You may be shocked to learn that this may not necessarily be the case. Dental manufacturers had decades to develop and enhance the light quality of their halogen treatment lights, in some cases, the light quality from halogen lights was actually excellent, even if hot to work under, more expensive to run and the bulbs need replacing from time to time. So what should you look for in a dental treatment light? The four top areas I would recommend exploring are:
You want to create a bright working light in the oral cavity to enhance the vision of the whole dental team. This light should brighter than your ambient lighting but beware that too large of a contrast can cause its own issues such as eye fatigue. You want to ensure that the lighting levels are safe for you to look into day in day out. Illumination of around 25-30,000 LUX will provide brilliant illumination in the oral cavity at a safe level.
Correlated Colour Temperature (CCT)
CCT defines the colour appearance of a white LED and is defined in degrees Kelvin or ‘K’. The aim for a dental treatment light is 5,000K which emits a neutral, white light. Anything less than 5,000K could be a compromise and provide a slightly warm yellow looking light. Higher than 5,000K and the light may appear a cool blue colour.
Colour Rendering Index
Colour Rendering Index (CRI) provides a measure of how well light reproduces the colour of an object it is illuminating in comparison to an ideal or natural light source. On a scale of 0 – 100CRI with 100 being perfect natural light you need a high CRI score combined with a CCT at 5,000K to allow accurate colour matching and soft tissue examination.
How often have you had to work without a treatment light just when you are completing your most technical restorations to avoid composites curing early? Light cure composites are cured using the blue spectrum of light. ‘Cure Safe’ in many cases is simply a dimmer light. This means that you are still curing your composite (allbeit a little slower) and working with a compromised light. For a true ‘cure safe’ mode look for a light which filters out the blue spectrum of light and allows you to work with a bright illuminance without curing your composite.
The auther has a passion for dental ergonomics and is certified by The Back School in the USA. Nick offers free dental ergonomics work shops both in person and online.