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Optimal lighting is critical to every dental practice. Proper lighting will help you attain the needed visual acuity and precision, especially when performing dental tasks that involve color matching. Here are a few practical tips that can help optimize your dental lighting for both aesthetic and functional purposes.
Optimal lighting can help reduce eye strain which is common among dentists who are working with low-quality illumination. Not only that, the illumination inside your dental clinic or workplace can also affect how both you and your patients will feel while inside the clinic. It will create an ambiance that can make your patients feel either at ease and relax or terrified and uneasy. A poorly lit workplace can also affect your performance, precision, visual acuity, accuracy, focus, and comfort.
This is why it is important to ensure that your work area is well-lit. Here are a few practical tips to optimize your dental lighting for both aesthetic and functional purposes.
Know the different types of lighting functions
Illumination in dentistry is categorized into two types- ambient lighting and task lighting.
Ambient lighting is the illumination inside your workstation or in your entire dental clinic. This type of lighting can help set the mood inside your clinic. Highly optimized ambient lighting can create a comfortable indoor environment that helps reduce patients’ nervousness and allows them to feel confident and calm.
Task lighting is the operatory light you use when performing specific dental tasks. There are different types of operatory lights used in dentistry. The most common are types are surgical operating lights, overhead lamps, track lights, and wireless dental headlights.
Know the right place to install lights
When making the dental practice design, it is important to know the different types of lights, their functions, and where to install them. You also need to identify the functions of each room and decide what ambient appeal you want to achieve. Don’t use the same type of lighting throughout your dental clinic.
For instance, you can use the recessed fluorescent light fixture in task areas like the sterilization room, lab, and operatories or 2×4 fluorescents in your office. These types of light sources will create a clinical and cold environment that is ideal for the function of these rooms. For other areas in your clinic, specifically for non-task areas like in the pantry, lobby, bathroom, holding area, or reception, you can choose warmer lighting or something that will help you achieve the ambient appeal you want base on aesthetic criteria.
Here are some of the important areas in your clinic that require lighting installation.
If your practice area still doesn’t have any window, if possible, install a window. Even if you have enough artificial lighting installed, it is still important that your practice area receives enough amount of natural light. The external natural light that comes from the windows will help improve shade matching, promote overall patient comfort, enhance the indoor ambiance, and boost productivity.
For dentistry, it is best to install windows in northern orientation as this is the best direction for a natural light source. Western direction may not be able to provide good quality light while easterly direction can be too bright especially in the morning.
You can also install blinds or curtains in the windows to screen out the ultra-bright light from the external source.
It is critical to keep the practice area properly illuminated because this is where you will perform dental treatment procedures. You can install fluorescent lamps, LED lights, or suspended ceiling lights on the ceiling or mount some lighting devices on the walls. Ideally, use a light source that is well-proportioned with balanced light emissions.
Pick the right task lighting
While the different types of light sources used for task lighting share the same application - to provide illumination to the operating field- they differ from each other in many ways especially in terms of quality, comfort, and portability.
Wireless dental headlights
This is so far the most convenient, portable, and efficient light source any dental professionals can use. Dental headlights are either worn on the head of the dentists or mounted to the frame of eyeglasses or dental loupes. The best dental headlight can easily be adjusted, comfortable, and convenient to use, and provide focused illumination on the oral cavity.
Dental headlights are also very economical. They do not consume too-much electricity since they are just battery operated. They can also deliver a shadow-free, consistent, ultra-bright natural light, and uniform color to the focused area. Thus, allowing you to see the region you are working on in crisp detail and without color distortion.
Dental overhead lamp
This light source can provide good illumination to the patient’s oral cavity. The only downsides of overhead lamps are that they often cast a shadow, require manual adjustment, and consume space. Since they are positioned above the head, they cast a shadow of the dentist’s head or hand and the dental tools used during treatment. To counter this issue, dentists need to change their position or manually adjust the angle of the light. While adjusting once or twice is tolerable, the need to manually change direction and angle every now and then can be annoying and disturbing. This will affect your focus and performance.
Surgical operating lights
This light source can provide general illumination to the working area. However, operating lights lack the quality and tone of light needed for dental works. They provide less amount of illumination to focused areas and the illumination they produce often affects the color of the gums and teeth of the patient. Just like dental overhead lamps, they also cast a shadow since they are located above the dentist.