Recently, a new concept to dentistry, the LED, has entered the market. There have been significant sales promotions from the several companies selling LED lights. As a result of the promotions, dentists appear to be more confused than before. In spite of the confusion, sales of these lights has been good, and, with the exception of a poor start by one light that is now off the market, some dentists appear to be relatively satisfied with lights such as the Elipar FreeLight (3M/ESPE, St. Paul, Minn.), the NRG LED Dental Curing Light (Dentsply Caulk, York, Pa.) and the GC E-Light (GC America, Alsip, Ill.).
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.
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.
I would like to comment on what I think are a few mis-understandings about dental curing lights. These are the units that cause dental materials, such as composites, sealants, and cements, to set or polymerize in the mouth. These units produce a visible blue light that these materials absorb, causing them to set.
These lights have been on the market for several years, they have created considerable controversy. Some practitioners have reported that the rapid cure afforded by PAC lights causes damage to both resin-based composite restorations and the tooth preparations.