Objective: To measure the light energy that dental students delivered to a simulated Class I restoration before training, immediately after training and 4 months after training.
Methods: Thirty-eight (38) dental students used a single light-emitting diode curing light (SmartLite iQ2, Dentsply) to cure, for 10 seconds, a simulated Class I restoration positioned in the Managing Accurate Resin Curing - Patient Simulator (BlueLight analytics inc.). The students then attended an instructional lecture and received individualized instruction on optimizing their light-curing technique. The students were retested immediately after instruction and again 4 months later (without further instruction). The irradiance and energy delivered during light-curing were calculated for each student at all 3 time points. Mean values were calculated and compared.
Results: Before instruction, the students delivered between 0.1 and 7.2 J/cm2 of energy (mean ± standard deviation [SD] 4.1 ± 1.7 J/cm2). After instruction, the same students delivered between 5.8 and 7.5 J/cm2 of energy (mean ± SD 6.7 ± 0.4 J/cm2). Analysis of variance and Fisher's Protected Least Significant Difference tests showed that instruction with the patient simulator led to a significant improvement in the amount of energy delivered and that the students retained this information. When retested 4 months later, the students delivered between 4.2 and 7.9 J/cm2 of energy (mean ± SD 6.1 ±1.1 J/cm2). Although this was less energy than immediately after instruction, the decline was not significant (p = 0.44).
Conclusions: Provision of immediate feedback on light-curing technique and instruction on how to avoid mistakes led to a significant and lasting improvement in the amount of energy delivered by the students.