It goes without saying that the more detailed and comprehensive the view of the treatment site, the more accurate an overall diagnosis, and the more successful a treatment is likely to be. When it comes to magnification, the performance of dental loupes can be dramatically enhanced with the addition of good illumination equipment such as dental headlights. Not only do dental headlights increase visibility around the treatment site, but they also help to improve sharpness and clarity of image. This enables dental practitioners to identify pathologies such as fine fractures more easily, as well as aiding in tasks such as tooth colour matching. In addition, there is less likelihood of eye strain for the practitioner.
These days, dental headlights come in two formats: single and twin beam. Single beam dental headlights are ideal for those who want precise line-of-sight illumination whilst twin beams allow for a wider area of illumination, revealing areas of the treatment site that were previously hidden or in shadow. Single beam models are generally designed with flexibility in mind. Clip-on versions can be attached onto the loupe frame when needed or alternatively, fixed onto a headband. Twin lamps are ideal for wide or extended field telescope formats and are usually affixed to a headlamp to ensure a sturdy, robust fit and steady beam.
Brightness of dental headlamps can also vary quite widely. Generally to replicate daylight, the beam needs to generate between 25,000-100,000 lux to come close to mimicking direct or indirect sunlight outdoors at noon. Lamps that provide anything less are not likely to be as effective, so be sure to choose something that matches or exceeds this range.
In the past, the brighter the light, the more heat generated by the beam. This sometimes had the effect of curing light sensitive materials, such as those used in composite restorations, prematurely. Now, though, manufacturers such as Designs for Vision have come up with a solution: the addition of a warm coloured swing-in on-demand filter which reduces heat but still facilitates maximum intensity illumination when needed.
Added features to look out for when choosing a dental headlight include: energy efficiency, ergonomics, portability and length of battery life. Ideally, you want a headlight that is not going to fail halfway through the treatment so the latter is exceptionally important. Lightweight design also means less head, neck and back fatigue too which in turn helps to reduce error and raise standards of patient care.