Curing Light Checklist
May 26, 2020
Chris Felix, Chief Scientist

The Curing Light Checklist Every Dentist Needs

Curious about which steps you should be taking to make sure your curing light is working properly? Here’s everything you need to know.

The Forgotten Tool

Think about the dental equipment you use on a daily basis. Which tool would you say is the most important? There may be quite a few different options that come to mind, but there is one tool that you might not think of: the curing light.

Light curing is a critical part of restorative dentistry, and yet it’s frequently the step that is left in the shadows. Many dentists assume their curing light is working properly without taking the time to test it.

There is a lot of misinformation surrounding curing lights, including that their output remains the same over time. This is simply untrue. All curing lights, no matter what level of quality they are, will degrade with use over time. The problem with this is that unless you are frequently testing your curing light, the tool you use every day could be underperforming, potentially compromising the final result

The Importance of Testing Your Curing Light

Frequently testing curing lights should be a standard best practice in all dental offices. Unfortunately, there are many dentists who simply rely on the output that is listed in the specifications provided by the manufacturer which give them false confidence in a curing light that may not be performing at the level it should be.

1 in 5 curing lights significantly differ from what the manufacturer states1. Standard (ISO) lights should be within +/- 20% of stated output. For example, if the manufacturer says the output should be 1,000 mW/cm, then the only acceptable range is from 800-1,200 mW/cm. 1 in 4 curing lights are outside of that 20% range1.

Underperforming curing lights can lead to negative outcomes that hurt both you and your patient. Resulting problems can include material discoloring, debonding from the tooth structure, microleakage, higher risk of fractures leading to cases of postoperative sensitivity and secondary decay.2,3

What should you be doing to help avoid these poor outcomes and ensure your curing light is properly functioning? Here’s a checklist that every dentist should keep handy.

Checklist – What to Do & When to Do It

Protective Eyewear

Before, During & After Every Patient

Implement Proper Curing Techniques

  • Always remember to wear eye protection and monitor the position of the light throughout the curing process.4
  • Position the tip of the curing light close and perpendicular to the restoration while avoiding distances of > 5 mm and shadows.4
  • Manage heat development by air cool (light on, air on) and cure in intervals (e.g. 2 x 10 seconds instead of 1 x 20 seconds).4
Clean Curing Light

Properly Clean the Light

  • Curing lights should be cleaned after every use. This includes changing the infection control barrier, using a disinfectant wipe on the entire light and conducting proper sterilization (either by using an autoclave or another acceptable method).
  • Along with cleaning it, make sure to inspect the tip before and after use to confirm there are no visible defects.4
Test Your Curing Light

Daily

Test Your Curing Light

  • You should test your curing lights daily. The more often you test them, the more accurate your knowledge of the output will be. Once you know what level your curing light is performing at, you can easily refer to the Instructions for Use to determine how long to cure each specific material.
Purchase High-Quality Lights

As Necessary

Purchase High-Quality Lights

  • When it comes time to purchase a new curing light, make sure you do your research, select one that is high-quality and only buy lights from reputable sources.
  • Curing lights sold by unreliable sources online will likely produce unreliable results because they are not certified to meet minimum standards required by most countries.

Conclusion

In essence, curing lights are similar to cars in a couple of ways: they require frequent maintenance and care in order to help them continue to perform at a high level, and the level of output is directly related to their ability to get the job done successfully. A few of the key steps to keep in mind include cleaning them after every patient, performing daily testing, purchasing new lights as needed, as well as referring to Instructions for Use (IFU) for complete product information.

By implementing these proactive measures to keep this key tool working successfully, you will help ensure that your patients are receiving the best care possible by giving curing lights the attention they deserve and require.

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