The Jameson Files: Plasma-arc curing lights with Dr. Bill Lee

Dr. John Jameson interviews Dr. Bill Lee, a general practitioner in Elizabethtown, Ky., on why he uses the plasma-arc curing system in his practice. Dr. Lee uses it in composites, bleaching, laminates, and sealants.

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This month, Dr. John Jameson interviews Dr. Bill Lee, who has a private general practice in Elizabethtown, Ky.

Dr. Jameson: How did you first become interested in a plasma-arc curing system?

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William H. Lee Jr., DMD
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Dr. Lee: I took a class from Den-Mat, and we've been using its products for about a year now. Virtuoso light was introduced to us at that time. Four people went with me to the class, and each person learned how the procedure would fit into his or her niche in the practice. We liked the Virtuoso so well that we got a second one and we left our halogen curing lights sitting on the shelf.

In Kentucky (where Dr. Lee practices), there are very liberal rules about what a dental assistant can do. One assistant can be placing sealants on a molar, while another can be doing composite restorations. The speed of the Virtuoso is what we've really noticed. It saves time, generates more production for the staff, and we're able to see more patients. Of course, we also notice its benefits in the bottom line at the end of the month.

The speed of the Virtuoso is probably most evident in the bleaching and veneers part of the practice. If we're doing six to eight laminates, it may take one-third of the time using the Virtuoso than it did before we had it in our practice. When we used the old light, it seemed like we needed 10 seconds per surface. Now we can be done in three seconds.

Along with the speed, I also like the auto-cycling feature used with chairside bleaching and the activated handpiece control. Those three things make it much easier for me or my assistant going from one tooth to the next.

We use the light in the cosmetic, restorative, and preventive portions of our practice. I definitely think everyone should observe what this light can do.

Dr. Jameson: Since this plasma-arc light is not a laser, it isn't really limited as a dentist-only instrument, is it?

Dr. Lee: That's correct. Over the past year, I think we've increased our monthly production by 20 percent. I attribute a lot of that increase to this light. We use it in composites, bleaching, laminates, and sealants.

Dr. Jameson: That 20 percent increase in production goes directly to your bottom line, doesn't it?

Dr. Lee: Absolutely. Another positive is staff motivation. The procedure goes much faster for a dental assistant who is battling a youngster with a lot of saliva and a moving tongue. My staff is happier, and the morale of staff members is very important. Doctors may look at the plasma-arc light as an object and only focus on the cost, but I think it more than pays for itself in a very short amount of time, all the while boosting staff morale.

Dr. Jameson: Have you spent specific time in your office on training to make sure your staff members can be most effective with this new technology?

Dr. Lee: When we came back from the meeting with Den-Mat, there was a great deal of discussion. Originally, when we had only one light, staff members mostly observed me as I used it. Of course, at that time, I was learning to use it as well. Our staff became familiar with it through observation, and gradually I delegated procedures to them. We all were unsure when we first began, but we gained confidence with time. I really thought this was too good to be true when I first saw the results and looked at the short amount of time it took to achieve those results.

Dr. Jameson: Have you noticed a reduction in hypersensitivity?

Dr. Lee: We haven't noticed a lot of sensitivity. I've noticed a lot less sensitivity with bleaching, but we use a different method. We put Milk of Magnesia on the tooth prior to the Rembrandt light bleaching system (which is 35 percent hydrogen peroxide) and follow up with our light. I can't tell if it's the light, the distance we hold it from the tooth, the speed with which the light works, or the clear fluoride we use following bleaching, but I do know patients experience less sensitivity now than they did before the plasma-arc light.

William H. Lee Jr., DMD

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