Effect of Contamination, Damage and Barriers on the Light Output of Light-Curing Units

The Open Dentistry Journal 30 June 2019 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874210601913010196



Light-curing is a crucial step during the application of composite resin restorations. The clinical success of composite depends on the Light-Curing Units (LCU) to deliver adequate light energy to polymerize the resin. However, light-curing usually does not receive the proper awareness it deserves.


This study aims to evaluate the effect of contamination and debris of the LCU’s tip on its light output. Determine the effect of damage to the LCU’s tip such as chipping, dents and scratches. Additionally, it evaluates the effect of plastic barrier sleeves.


Sixty LED LCUs were tested using MARC™ Resin Calibrator (BlueLight Analytic Inc., Halifax, Canada) to measure their irradiance and energy before and after cleaning their tips. They were also tested with and without a clear plastic barrier. Additionally, four damaged LCUs received new tips and were tested again. Kruskal-Wallis H and One-Way ANOVA tests were used for statistical analysis.


Cleaning the LCUs’ tips showed significant improvement, an average increase of 8.2%. However, some units increased by up to 47% in irradiance and energy values. Replacing the damaged tip with a new one significantly improved the output of the LCUs, increasing light energy by up to 73%. The barrier used in this study caused 7% reduction in the energy delivered by the LCUs. The statistical analysis showed that cleaning the LCUs and replacing their damaged tips resulted in a significant increase in energy (p<0.05).


Unclean or damaged LCUs’ tips can drastically reduce the light output of the LCUs, reducing the quality of the composite restorations. Clinicians are strongly recommended to regularly monitor, clean and maintain their curing lights.

Keywords: Light-curing, Composite resins, Curing lights, Polymerization, Irradiance, Energy.
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