Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Dental LED Curing Lights – What Who Don’t Know!

t2ec16hhjgmffobufofbbrklvzl9w60_35  LED Curing Lights were introduced to the dental industry a number of years ago. Their clinical effectiveness and success has been proven in thousands of studies and cannot be disputed. However, as George Harrison once wrote “all things must pass”… Nothing lasts forever.

It is true that LED “bulbs” last 10 times longer than traditional bulbs and burn much cooler, but unlike their counterparts they don’t just blow out. The deterioration of LED bulbs is a slow process and may be accelerated by multiple factors within a dental clinical environment. The lights effectiveness will diminish over time and will not give any warning until revealed by clinical failures.

Let’s start with the LED Crystal …The main cause of deterioration lies in the enlargement of defects in the LED crystal, which supply on thermal influence, as to high temperature. These defects do not participate any more in the light generation and the LED lose luminous flux, thus it’s brightness. This is where the old saying “you get what you pay for” comes in. When two competing products are so different in price, there is usually a reason and the reason is the quality of components such as the crystals.

The Crystal Housing & Lens … Quality crystals in a quality housing with a quality lens is essential for quality performance. Many housings and lenses are made of plastic or a low quality metal and that will accelerate deterioration of crystal defects due to temperature fluctuation. Debris build-up on the light exit points will create an excessive heat build-up and add to the strain on the crystals. At this point the light will not preform properly.

LED vs Restorative Material … This is a question that I have been asked my entire career and I was here when Dentsply first introduced the NuvaLight (ultra-violet) and the magic of light cure composites began. Whenever someone told me about a curing light that is so powerful it would cure in 5 seconds I would ask how long the material manufacturer recommended? The answer was usually 20 seconds. If the material manufacturer recommends 20 seconds, then you cure for 20 seconds because that is how long it takes for the chemical reaction to take place. With the emergence of LED lights nothing has changed, until today.

The New Game Changer … Technology is a wonderful thing, it actually fuels its-self. In dentistry we tend to think of technology as software and scanners but the technology used to create perfect clinical materials is now finding faults in trusted restorative techniques. A newly developed computer analysis is now available to measure the compatibility of an LED Light output to the material it is being used to cure. When a manufacturer (i.e. 3M ESPE, Ivolclar Vivadet) develops a light cure material, they “tune it” to their LED Light. Another manufacturer’s light may require a different curing time to avoid an incomplete cure or a burn (over-cure). New technology has revealed the possibility of over-cure as a for cause restorative failure. This becomes extremely critical when considering bulk fill composites.

The Answer … For years I thought it was all about the materials but now I believe it is all about a married system. A computer analysis of the LED Lights in your office and how their output relates to the materials you use takes about 1 hour and can be provided free of charge and I do suggest it. Please feel free to contact me at any time with any questions or concerns.

Ad-Photo-7486-1Henry Schein 2

February 5, 2017 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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