The quality of light you work under can have an enormous effect on your energy levels, your mood, and your quality of life. If you leave your dental practice feeling exhausted at the end of the day, the problem might be lighting. The good news is: With just a few easy fixes, you, your staff, and your patients can feel better in no time.
Let’s Talk Lighting
Before we get into the different types of dental office operatory lights, you need to understand the different types of lighting and how they work together. In most dental offices, there’s ambient lighting and task lighting. Ambient lighting illuminates the entire space, while task lighting is designed to help you accomplish specific jobs (not only are these your operatory lights, but also your desk lamps). You need both, but you also need to balance them. If your task lighting is much brighter than your ambient lighting, it can result in eye strain, fatigue, and headache.
Don’t forget natural light. Working in windowless environments has been shown to decrease productivity and increase stress. To protect the health and wellbeing of your staff and patients, we definitely recommend using natural light wherever possible.
The worst lighting mistake you can make (and it’s also the most common)
Many offices, dental and otherwise, make this mistake: They use only ambient lighting throughout the space. And it’s usually fluorescent lighting! There are physical and psychological benefits to having several different lighting sources at the same time, including natural light, ambient light, task lights, and purely decorative lights.
Choosing the Right Dental Office Operatory Lights
When choosing operatory lights, consider brightness and flexibility.
Brightness: Ophthalmologists recommend an operating to ambient light ration of 10:1, which means that if your operating light has an intensity of 5,000 lumens, the ambient light should have around 500 lumens. Different lights come with different intensities and most are adjustable, so make sure they are adjusted correctly.
Flexibility: Flexible lighting is important for getting different angles without blinding your assistant or patient. Operatory lights can be mounted to the ceiling (as in track lighting), cabinet, wall, or even the chair and come with many swing-arm options. When deciding which light to install, consider how you prefer to work and what light would best support that.
Light is one of the most underrated, yet most important parts of a successful dental practice. So when you’re ready to build-out or renovate your dental office, let us help you choose lighting that will make you feel as good as your office looks.