Document Type




Publication Date



American Dental Association

Source Publication

Journal of the American Dental Association

Source ISSN




The ability to polymerize light-activated dental materials with dental light-curing units (DLCUs) has revolutionized dentistry. However, proper DLCU use is essential for ensuring the effectiveness and performance of these materials.


The authors developed an electronic cross-sectional survey in the American Dental Association Qualtrics Research Core platform. The survey included questions about DLCU use, unit type and selection, training, maintenance, technique, and safety measures. The authors deployed the survey to 809 American Dental Association Clinical Evaluators (ACE) panelists on October 9, 2019, and sent reminder links to nonrespondents 1 week later. They conducted exploratory and descriptive analyses using SAS software Version 9.4.


Of the 353 ACE panelists who completed the survey, most used a DLCU in their practices (99%), and light-emitting diode multiwave units were the most common type of DLCU units (55%). Dentists use DLCUs for over one-half of their appointments each day (mean [standard deviation], 59% [22%]). Regarding technique, respondents reported that they modify their curing technique on the basis of material thickness (79%) and material type or light tip-to-target distances (59%). Maintenance practices varied, with two-thirds of respondents reporting that they periodically check their DLCUs' light output.


DLCUs are an integral part of a general dentist’s daily practice, but maintenance, ocular safety, and technique varied widely among this sample.

Practical Implications

Because clinical effectiveness requires delivery of an adequate amount of light energy at the appropriate wavelength, variation in DLCU maintenance, safety, and techniques suggest that dentists could benefit from additional guidance and training on DLCU operation.


Accepted version. The Journal of the American Dental Association, Vol. 151, No. 7 (July 2020): 544-545, e2. DOI. © 2020 American Dental Association. Used with permission.

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