About the Blue Dental Curing Light
Before I answer Christopher’s question, here’s a little background information for those who aren’t familiar with the blue dental curing light. When a dentist puts a white filling (or a sealant, or a light-cured filling material) in your mouth, it is in a liquid or semi-solid state so that the dentist can put it exactly where it needs to go and shape it correctly. In order for the material to harden so that it can withstand the forces of chewing, it needs to be cured.
Curing the material is accomplished by shining a blue light on it. Not just any blue light will do. It has to be a certain shade of blue.
The blue dental curing light emits light at a wavelength of around 450 to 490 nm, a blue light. You can read more about the visible light spectrum here.
The very first light-activated filling materials used ultraviolet light. Fortunately, today dentists only use materials that are cured by visible light as the use of UV cured materials has pretty much died out due to the dangers posed by ultraviolet light.
The Blue Dental Curing Light Can Hurt Your Eyes!
One of the major dangers of the blue dental curing light is that it can hurt your eyes! When we were learning how to do white fillings, our professors always advised us to never look at the blue light.
Here’s what the book Craig’s Restorative Dental Materialssays about this:
Although there is minimal potential for radiation damage to surrounding soft tissue inadvertently exposed to visible light, caution should be used to prevent retinal damage to the eyes. Because of the high intensity of the light, the operator should not look directly at the tip or the reflected light from the teeth.
The orange filter that you can see on the curing light above filters out the visible light, allowing the dentist or assistant to see what they are doing without looking directly at the light.
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