Shedding light on a potential hazard: Dental light-curing units

Marie T. Fluent, Jack L. Ferracane, James G. Mace, Anjali R. Shah, Richard B. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Dental light-curing units (LCUs) are powerful sources of blue light that can cause soft-tissue burns and ocular damage. Although most ophthalmic research on the hazards of blue light pertains to low levels from personal electronic devices, computer monitors, and light-emitting diode light sources, the amount of blue light emitted from dental LCUs is much greater and may pose a “blue light hazard.” Methods: The authors explain the potential risks of using dental LCUs, identify the agencies that provide guidelines designed to protect all workers from excessive exposure to blue light, discuss the selection of appropriate eye protection, and provide clinical tips to ensure eye safety when using LCUs. Results: While current literature and regulatory standards regarding the safety of blue light is primarily based on animal studies, sufficient evidence exists to suggest that appropriate precautions should be taken when using dental curing lights. The authors found it difficult to find on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration database which curing lights had been cleared for use in the United States or Europe and could find no database that listed which brands of eyewear designed to protect against the blue light has been cleared for use. The authors conclude that more research is needed on the cumulative exposure to blue light in humans. Manufacturers of curing lights, government and regulatory agencies, employers, and dental personnel should collaborate to determine ocular risks from blue light exist in the dental setting, and recommend appropriate eye protection. Guidance on selection and proper use of eye protection should be readily accessible. Conclusions and Practical Implications: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for Infection Control in the Dental Health-Care Setting–2003 and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Bloodborne Pathogen Standard do not include safety recommendations or regulations that are directly related to blue light exposure. However, there are additional Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations that require employers to protect their employees from potentially injurious light radiation. Unfortunately, it is not readily evident that these regulations apply to the excessive exposure to blue light. Consequently employers and dental personnel may be unaware that these Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations exist.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1058
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2019


  • Bloodborne pathogens
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration
  • adhesives
  • dental bonding
  • light
  • light curing
  • occupational exposure
  • personnel
  • resin-based composites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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