By Tanna Bowen
Infection control barriers on dental curing lights are paramount for infection control—especially in pandemic/post-pandemic times, patients expect these measures to be taken more seriously than ever. Using these barriers on certain pieces of equipment have become as intuitive as putting on gloves before a procedure. While they can impact light output, proper application will ensure minimal effect on light while providing infection control.
“Clinicians are faced with a difficult situation. The use of barriers will decrease the light output but barriers are necessary to reduce the chance of cross-infection in the dental office,” says Dental educator and professor at Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (UFU), Dr. Carlos José Soares. “Since no Light curing unit (LCU) can be heat-sterilized (as this would destroy the electronics inside), a combination of barriers and surface disinfectants must be used.”1 (Soares et al., 2020)
To minimize the 5–8% power output reduction when a sleeve is applied correctly, Soares et al. offer these helpful tips:
- Regularly check the output from the LCU with the infection control barrier on the LCU. Any reduction in light output should be noted and addressed.
- Apply the infection control barrier so that there are no seams or folds in the barrier over the light tip
- Position the patient and yourself for a better view of what you are doing
- Use orange glasses or a shield to protect your eyes from the blue and violet light
- Actively monitor and adjust the position of the light tip so that it remains perpendicular to the surface of the restoration
- If using a high powered LCU, cool the tooth with air during the curing cycle to prevent overheating of the tissues
- Increase the light-curing exposure time to compensate for the loss of light emitted by the LCU when a barrier is used. A 10% increase in the exposure time should be sufficient if the barrier is applied correctly.
Barrier sleeves for the VALO™ Grand curing light (Ultradent Products) mitigate power reduction without compromising infection control. You can not only improve the longevity of your device by employing sleeves, but also reassure patients that their safety is a top priority. Find out more here.
- Soares CJ, Braga SS, Ribeiro MT, Price RB. Effect of infection control barriers on the light output from a multi-peak light curing unit. Journal of Dentistry. 2020;103:1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jdent.2020.103503