Revisiting the Intensity Output of Curing Lights in Private Dental Offices

Nasser Barghi, DDS, MA; Dan E. Fischer, DDS; Tuan Pham, DSIV

July 2007 Issue - Expires July 1st, 2009

Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry


In a survey published in 1994, it was reported that nearly 30% of dental office curing lights had an intensity output (power density) of <200 mW/cm2. This study was designed to examine the types of curing lights and the adequacy of the intensity output in the same localities after 10 years. A total of 161 curing lights in 65 dental offices located in 2 metropolitan areas in Texas were examined for the following variables: types of light, power density, resin build-up on the tips. Two new radiometers were used to measure the outputs. The average intensity output for each light was placed in 5 categories ranging from <150 mW/cm2 to >500 mW/cm2. Of 161 lights examined, 127 (78.9%) were halogen, 22 (13.6%) were light emitting diodes (LEDs), and 12 (7.4%) were plasma arc curing (PAC) lights. The intensity outputs (mW/cm2) of all examined lights were placed into 5 groups: (1) <149 = 1.8% of lights; (2) 150 to 249 = 8.6%; (3) 250 to 349 = 6.2%; (4) 350 to 499 = 18.6%; and (5) >500 = 64.0%. Build-up on the tip was: none (23%), light (49.7%), moderate (12.4%), and heavy (13.7%). A comparison of the results of this study with the 1994 survey report shows an overall improvement in the intensity output in dental offices. LED and PAC lights constitued 21.2% of curing lights in this survey.

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