Magnification: Are You in the Loupe?

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Wanting to provide excellent care for our dental patients, as well as comfort and longevity in our chosen careers, are most likely the highest priorities for dental professionals. One of the most successful ways to assist ourselves as dental hygienists are with the use of dental loupes. Keeping in mind that purchasing the wrong loupes for your needs, can cause, or worsen existing neck pain. And that conversely, well-designed ergonomic loupes can improve, or even eliminate neck pain.1 Great care should be taken to consider all the options, and choosing the loupes, that will be the very best investment, for your needs.

The most recent trends are with through the lens (TTL), as well as, flip-up style loupes. The choice, as to which type a clinician should purchase, should be carefully considered. TTL style of loupes, usually weigh less, give a wider field of vision and are customized for the clinician.  They do, also tend to cost more, and a clinician may need to tilt their head down to look at the patient while talking, in order to see the patient without the magnification. So for some, the flip-up may be a good option, as you can move the magnification out of your focal point, for long periods of time, if needed.

Factors that should be considered for customizing a set of TTL loupes are working distance, declination angle and frame size. The eyes-to-work area should be measured while the clinician is in a working position, with a patient in the chair. It should be measured from at least three different work locations around the patient chair, such as 12, 10 and eight 0’clock. The angulation of the lens should be tilted downward, enough to allow the clinician to keep their head and neck in a more natural, upright position. The lenses should be positioned within the glasses, specifically for the clinician, based on measuring the distance between the pupils.1

In the past, because of the heavier feeling of the flip-up style loupes, they were not as highly recommended. They have become more popular, however, because of newer, lighter materials, and the fact the vertical adjustability of the flip-up lenses can greatly improve the vertical declination angle. The angle is ideally between 40 to 50 degrees. This will help keep your head at the minimal forward posture.1

Other factors to consider when choosing the correct loupes for you are:2

  1. Plastic lenses are known to be more comfortable
  2. Plastic lenses are usually lighter
  3. Larger lenses give brighter images
  4. Magnification
  5. Resolution
  6. Depth of field (an ideal depth of field is 10 cm and can help reduce fatigue while working)
  7. Field of view (a larger field of view is often recommended)
  8. Weight of loupes
  9. Availability of light
  10. Comfort
  11. Ease of use

The way dental loupes work to improve our vision in the oral cavity is because light reflects off the tooth or other tissues, hits the loupes and causes refraction. The refracted light then passes through the pupil. The light is focused on the retina, and our brain produces the image. The lenses on the loupes, cause light to change direction, and this is what makes the image appear closer.2

The benefits of magnification include:3

  1. Magnified image
  2. Brilliant illumination
  3. Better posture and comfort
  4. Increased precision
  5. Improved dental care
  6. Additional treatment options
  7. Improved profitability

Once you have chosen your loupes, the care of them is critical to keeping them in great working condition. You will want to store and clean them properly to avoid scratches and to avoid getting them out of alignment. Recommended materials for cleaning are non-wood fiber wipes, cotton cloths, or microfiber. You can use running water to remove heavier debris and blood splatter but should avoid full immersion.

Because we spend our days working in small spaces and are prone to neck, shoulder, and back pain, I feel that among many other ergonomic choices, a great pair of loupes is well worth the investment of money. I am confident that if you have not yet looked into loupes, you will be very pleased with the positive difference that they will make in your practice.

SEE ALSO: Seeing Clearly: Say Yes to Loupes

DON’T MISS: Loupe Holes in Dentistry

 

References

  1. Valachi, B. Posturdontics. https://posturedontics.com/
  2. Hudnall, D., Plambeck, M. How Do Loupes Work? Dentably. Retrieved from https://www.emergencydentistsusa.com/how-do-dental-loupes-work/
  3. Magnification in Dentistry. Retrieved from http://magnificationindentistry.com/
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Kendra R. Pierce, RDH, began her dental career as a Dental Assistant. She was a student at the Branch Area Careers Center in Coldwater, Michigan, and worked her senior year of high school as a part-time Dental Assistant to save money for college. In 1992, she graduated from Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Michigan, with her Associate in Applied Science in Dental Hygiene.

Kendra has worked in Sturgis, Michigan, for the majority of her 25-year hygiene career. She currently lives in Sturgis with her husband, Craig. They have one son, Matthew. Kendra plays golf, and she is president of a ladies’ golf league. She also enjoys photography and spending time with her family. She enjoys helping others in her free time and volunteers at bone marrow donor drives and in the kids’ ministry at church.