New year, new curing light for you

Jan. 1, 2003
Happy New Year! Whenever we begin a new year, we tend to want to do or try new things, as part of the "I'm going to be better this year philosophy." As part of the "trying new things," you may want to look at all the new curing lights; there is a lot of excitement out there and plenty of potential for increased efficiency.

By Mary Govoni, CDA, RDA, RDH, MBA

Happy New Year! Whenever we begin a new year, we tend to want to do or try new things, as part of the "I'm going to be better this year philosophy." As part of the "trying new things," you may want to look at all the new curing lights; there is a lot of excitement out there and plenty of potential for increased efficiency.

Have you noticed all the new curing lights being introduced lately? It's interesting to see all the new developments, especially cordless lights. Because ergonomics is one of my specialties, I am very excited about these developments. These lights have some great ergonomic advantages since the "tug" from the cord has been eliminated without adding extra weight from the battery, as with the first generation of cordless lights introduced many years ago. Cordless lights also have unlimited portability, which may help boost efficiency. Examples of the new cordless lights include Elipar FreeLight™ from 3M ESPE Dental Products (seen at the top of the page), L.E. Demetron I™ from Kerr (seen at right), Flashlite™ from Discus Dental, and CoolBlu 2™ from Dental Systems International. These models vary in size, weight, and battery life.

While not cordless, The Cure™ from Spring Health Products and the Ultra-Lume™ LED 2 from Ultradent Products (seen at right) and are also ones to consider. These lights do not have a base, are very compact in a wand style handle attached to a cord, and are very portable.

All of these new lights mentioned use LED technology, which may limit their ability to cure a few materials, but their portability and ergonomics certainly makes them worth evaluating. Part of that evaluation must include an understanding of all the types of curing lights to know if the LED lights are appropriate for the types of materials that you use in your practice.

In the past, dentists have experienced problems with incomplete curing of some materials with LED lights. This is due to the photoinitiator, a chemical that allows the material to harden when it absorbs light. The light that is utilized for curing dental materials is blue light, but not all photoinitiators have the same spectrum of absorption of that blue light. Since most of the materials are now using a common photoinitiator known as camphoroquinone (CPQ), LED curing lights have much more universal application. Another distinct advantage of LED lights is that there are no bulbs to change and no noisy fans.

Halogen curing lights are still the most commonly used curing lights. These include the Coe© Lunar TA™ from GC America, Demetron LC™ from Kerr, and Elipar Highlight™ from 3M ESPE. Some units are high-intensity lights that decrease curing times. Halogen lights are low-cost, have the most research behind them, and do not present the potential problem with the photoinitiators like the LED lights. Because these lights produce heat during the curing process, they are cooled by fans. This may make them noisy during operation, but they are still the workhorses in our practices. It is very important to monitor the intensity of halogen curing lights, thus ensuring that materials will cure properly. Dentsply Caulk and Coltene Whaledent make light-intensity meters that are separate units. Many units also have light-intensity meters built into the base for very convenient monitoring.

The other type of curing light is the plasma-arc or PAC light, such as the Rembrandt Sapphire Light from Den-Mat (seen at right) and PowerPac™ from American Dental Technologies. The main advantage of the PAC light is the short curing time, which can sometimes be as short as 1 second. Many of these lights are also used for in-office whitening systems as well. The units tend to be much larger than halogen or LED lights, are much less portable from room to room, and are much more expensive, but they have distinct advantages in a practice that is highly focused on cosmetic procedures.

In addition to the curing light technology itself, the curing units vary in size, weight, and ease of handling (ergonomics). Some units have a variety of tip sizes, from 2 mm to 13 mm, depending on the application. Some units have "turbo" tips that will boost the intensity and decrease curing time. Another characteristic of some lights is the ability to ramp (slower initial curing, followed by faster, higher-intensity curing) or bulk cure, as well as initiate whitening products.

Whatever the preferred technology in your practice, you have many choices of excellent products from which to choose. Some research and evaluation may lead you to a more efficient curing system for your practice.

Note: Keep in mind that the products listed here are not the only ones to research, as this article is not intended to provide an all-inclusive list of the currently available curing light units.

Author's clarification: In my previous column on cements (September DE&M), I mentioned a product from Premier Dental Products called Removalon™, and inadvertently stated that it removed resin cements. Removalon™ will remove glass ionomer cements and polycarboxylate cements, but not resins.

Looking for more information on the companies mentioned?

American Dental Technologies—
Dental Systems International—
Discus Dental—
GC America—
Kerr Corp.—
Spring Health Products—(800) 800-1680
Ultradent Products—

Mary Govoni is a Certified and Registered Dental Assistant and a Registered Dental Hygienist, with over 28 years of experience in the dental profession as a chairside assistant, office administrator, clinical hygienist, educator, consultant, and speaker. She is the owner of Clinical Dynamics, a consulting company dedicated to the enhancement of the clinical and communication skills of dental teams. She can be reached at [email protected].