Do I need laser safety equipment in my dental practice?

24 April 2019

Do I need laser safety equipment in my dental practice?  Laser use in dental practices has developed significantly in the past 20 years.  If your practice owns a laser, the registered laser owner is responsible for ensuring that all personnel in your office have comprehensive knowledge of laser safety.  There are federal and/or international regulations regarding the use of lasers.  Eyewear Frame for laser filter polycarbonate or glassCare needs to be taken to protect yourself, your staff, and your patients.

Protection requirements will vary depending on the class of laser that is being used.

All lasers used in dentistry are categorized with regard to the potential for damage.  This extends from Class I lasers, which may pose no implicit risk, to Class IV lasers for which all safety measures are applicable (according to the American national standard for the safe use of lasers). Regardless of the class of laser being used, it is highly recommended that one should never look directly into a laser beam, even if it is considered to be “eye-safe.”

The classification ascends from Class I through Class IV.  Class I being considered eye-safe and Class IV being the most dangerous. However, with the increased use of magnification devices – loupes and microscopes – there is a potential for laser beams to be magnified and/or focused.

Consequently, Class IM and Class IIM contain refinements.  Class IIIR and IIIB lasers are generally low-level instruments.  Their wavelengths are in the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum and whose energy range lies between 1 and 500 milli Watts. These lasers require safety personnel to monitor the Nominal Hazard Zone (NHZ), eye protection, and training.

Class IIIR was recognized to include those continuous-wave lasers that may emit up to five times the power of Class I and II lasers (according to IEC 60825-1, Safety of laser products).  These lasers pose significant risk of eye damage.  The eyewear must be rated at minimum Optical Density (OD) in the United States (U.S.) or European L6A standard.

It is the laser manufacturer’s responsibility to provide the numerical value of the OD.  This is found in the operator’s manual, specific to the laser being used.

laser shade installed in window looking out to parking lot

If you have a laser and need eyewear, just send us the manual for your laser and we will make sure to provide you with the correct eyewear.  If you have multiple lasers, you may need different glasses for each laser if their specs are not the same.  Additionally, you may also need laser barriers.  For example, laser protective material with magnets you can place temporarily over a window. while the laser is in use.  We also offer blinds for a more permanent solution.  This ensures that the laser does not bounce around and unintentionally go out the window.

Please contact us with any questions and we will be happy to help you with any laser safety equipment requirements.