Let There Be Light!

Preferably, an LED curing light…

Though it’s tough to take in your surroundings when your dentist is working away in your mouth, you might have noticed a blue light during some stage of your dental care, particularly if you’ve ever needed to have a cavity filled. That blue light is called a curing light and is used to cure, or set, resin-based composites to your teeth. As dentistry evolved, so did curing lights, emerging and changing to keep pace with other dental technologies.

Here, a brief history of the curing light and more background on that little blue light than you ever cared to know…

The Curing Light – Types and History

Let’s start with the basics. The three curing lights featured in this story are as follows: tungsten halogen, light-emitting diode (LED), and plasma arc curing (PAC). However, the most widely used by dentists are the halogen and LED versions.

Curing lights were first introduced in the 1970s, with the Nuva Light the very first of its kind. Unfortunately, the Nuva Light required UV light to effectively cure resin composites, which lead to its eventual discontinuation.

By the 1980s, technological advancements created the blue in the curing lights we recognize today. This halogen curing light replaced the UV lights used in the 1970s. Time marched on, of course, and so did dentistry.

By the 1990s, the goal was to design a light that cured the composite quicker and to a greater depth than ever before. To that end, in 1998, dentists were presented with the availability of a plasma arc curing light. This high-intensity light featured plasma inside its fluorescent bulb and reportedly cured resin composites in a mere three seconds. But, in reality, it actually took longer than that, was pricey to purchase, and expensive to maintain. Next!

Although LED curing lights were, in fact, developed in the 1990s as well, specifically 1995, they took a backseat to the plasma arc curing lights partly because of their rumored three-second speed. Once plasma arc curing lights proved too good to be true – and costly – their LED counterparts took center stage. Good thing, too. The heat emitted from the LED light is much cooler than that created by plasma arc curing lights, which meant that LED curing lights did not require a fan. Thanks to this, LED curing lights are lightweight, and smaller in design.

As if you needed another excuse to finally get that cavity filled! Check out an LED curing light in action by booking your next appointment with Dr. Chen at Crown Dental. Call the office at 603-521-7739, and finally, see the light!



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