In the dental field, a curing light can use ultraviolet or visible light, depending on what it is designed for. Both dentist and patient need to wear eye protection to limit damage to the retina for even the 20 seconds to a minute that the light is in use during rapid curing, and the light needs to be well maintained so that it will work properly and effectively. It's also important to use the right curing light for the right resin product; many lights are designed to handle a range of resins safety.
The dental curing light also increases patient comfort by rapidly curing resins so that the patient is not forced to sit in discomfort while the resin sets. Since the mouth usually needs to be held open wide and may be dry for the procedure, patients usually want the procedure to end as quickly as possible so that they can close their mouths and remoisturize the dried oral membranes. Using a curing light gets patients in and out of the chair quickly so that the experience of irritation and pain is limited.
Curing light sheaths positively end the risk of cross-contamination and protect costly curing lights from the damaging effects of disinfectants and residual build-up. Ventilation holes on sides and back of sheaths allow air circulation to prevent overheating. Available in halogen gun-style and LED-styles.
“Dental curing lights are generally provided to the user as nonsterile devices. Patient-contacting portions, such as the light tip, are intended to be disinfected or sterilized before each use. We recommend you describe the parameters for disinfection, sterilization, or both as appropriate for your device, and include the validated method, suitable chemical disinfectants for the device material type, and the cycle variables — time, temperature, pressure.”
So, what should we use as a protective barrier? There is very clear research that many of the things we use routinely as barriers alter the effectiveness of the curing light dramatically. The barriers need to be clear, and designed to allow for light penetration. Most of the manufacturers recommend a barrier for their unit. Finger cots and other materials that have not been designed for this purpose may reduce the light intensity by as much as 30-40%. Use a barrier that you know will not have a negative impact on your ability to fully cure the resin, because uncured material at the base of a restoration causes post op sensitivity and premature failure of the restoration.