A Guide On Dental Lighting

June 17, 2020

Tips That Will Optimize Your Dental Lighting

Because precision and accuracy both depend on optimal lighting, it is an important element in the field of dentistry. Lights can also be used to create an ambiance that will allow both patients and dental practitioners to feel more at ease inside a clinic.

Therefore, it is important in a dental practice design that a certain amount of consideration be put into lighting installations for both functional and aesthetic purposes.

Two Primary Lighting Functions in Dentistry

  • Task lightingThis is used for specific tasks like operatory lights (track lights, chair/surgical lights, etc.) The best type of task lighting should be powerful enough to ensure work precision is possible, especially when color matching for cosmetic work and restoration.
  • Ambient lightingThis function serves as illumination for the entire workspace. It is also used to establish a comfortable environment that helps patients feel confident and calm .Having well-balanced lighting lessens eye strain which could potentially lead to frequent headaches and fatigue.

What to Avoid When Installing Lights

Many dental offices, for practical reasons, make the huge mistake of using 2×4 fluorescents as a light source for their office.  This type of lighting commonly creates a cold and clinical environment throughout the practice area.

Don’t use the same light source throughout your office. A recessed fluorescent light fixture is appropriate over a task area (operatories, lab, sterilization), but it is a poor choice for non-task areas (reception, bathroom, pantry) in creating ambient appeal.

Select lighting based on functional and esthetic criteria for each space. Multiple lighting sources carry both health and psychological benefits too.

Where Are the Most Important Areas to Install Lights?

Knowing how lighting functions and where to install lights are two separate things to consider in dental practice design. Dental clinics should be able to determine the best area to install lights to maximize both aesthetic and practical benefits.

Below are the following areas crucial to light installation.

Ceiling Lights

This is the most common area where fluorescent lights are installed. Ideal lights should be well-proportioned with balanced light emissions.  If placed correctly, it can help improve the overall customer experience.

Operating Lights

This is the area where dentists perform surgeries and other operations. Thus, illumination is vital for this area. Most operating lights installed here are now LED lights. Some operatories have lights attached to the delivery unit, while others make use of ceiling or wall mounted lights.

Window Lighting

Artificial lighting in dental clinics will always be a prerequisite, no matter how much external lighting comes from the windows. However, it is always good to consider having a source of natural light to improve shade matching, productivity, and patient comfort.

Having a window installed in the practice area is advisable, and knowing which direction to put it should be considered. North facing windows are ideal for natural light sources.

Decontamination or LDU room

If there is an area in the clinic where bright lights are needed the most, it is in the LDU room. It is where infection controls are performed, so having a clear view of the working area is important.

A Final Tip

When planning a lighting installation, dental clinics should remember that using general lighting in a certain area should preferably be intense, while downlighting can give an area a more luxurious feel.

Finally, some dental clinics may have a harder time in planning light installations for many reasons, so it is best to consult a lighting specialist to make the task easier.

How to Determine The Best Operatory Lights

A dentist’s operatory is where the brunt of dental care is done. So, it is no wonder that most dental equipment is found in this area.  And in this area is the most underappreciated part of a dentist’s toolkit, which is actually the lights.

These dental lights are permanently mounted to the ceiling, cabinet, wall or delivery system and have a variety of swing arm options. Because operatory lights are a fundamental tool in dental practice, it is equally important that practitioners get an in-depth picture of how these lights are installed according to their specifications.

What Factors Are Considered For Installing Operatory Lights 

When deciding which lights to install, consider how you prefer to work and what light would best support that. Found below are crucial factors to consider when choosing the right operatory lights

Halogen vs. LED Lights

Operating lights are basically equipped with either halogen or Light Emitting Diode (LED) lights. However, LED lights are becoming more popular in dental clinics due to energy efficiency and longevity when compared to Halogen lights.

  • Halogen: A halogen bulb that uses a tungsten filament, but is inside a quartz casing.
  • LED: Light Emitting Diode—more commonly known as LED—lights are unique in that they have no filament. It possesses a block of material that efficiently conducts electricity.


Operatory lights should be installed with flexibility in mind to enable practitioners to operate using different angles without blinding their assistants and patients.


Ensure that lights will work with the equipped delivery system, cabinetry, and preferred positioning during procedures.


Different lights come with different intensities and most are adjustable to fit the advisable brightness ratio of 10:1 used in operating procedures.

NOTE:  A 10:1 ratio means that the operating light settings should have an intensity of 5,000 lumens while the ambient light should have around 500 lumens.

Ask for Assistance 

Practitioners that are still having a hard time selecting the right type of lighting may opt to consult a technician that specializes in operatory lights. Most dental suppliers, like Benco Dental, provide clinics with not just great dental equipment, but consultation services as well. Here is a short rundown on the benefits of working with a dental supplier:

Site Assessment

Employing the services of equipment technicians to do a site assessment will not only make planning and installation much easier for dental clinics, but also broaden options based on preference.

Free Equipment Installation

Dental clinics that purchase a certain amount of equipment typically have their installation fees waived.

White Glove services

From delivery to installation, suppliers handle equipment with care. It assures clients that the equipment they purchase is in ideal condition and well worth the money spent.

Dental practitioners should always remember that better visibility means better treatment for the patient. If there are noticeable inconsistencies in an operation because of poor lighting equipment, then it is time to consider a new lighting configuration.

For more information on operatory lights, contact Benco Dental.


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