The dark side of artificial light

Stuart Clark considers the effects of artificial light on health and how they can be combatted in a dental setting

We are never too far away from artificial light – the benefits of which cannot be underestimated, as it has enabled us to be more productive during the day and night.

In the dental practice setting, artificial light has become increasingly relied upon in the delivery of high-quality care – not only to help dentists carry out intricate, complex procedures, but also to create a relaxing environment for patients.

The effects of artificial light

For the most part, artificial light is harmless but scientists continue to find compelling evidence that suggests prolonged exposure could detrimentally affect an individual’s sleep patterns and, subsequently, their overall general health.

This is worrying, especially considering that dentists are frequently exposed to intense artificial light on a daily basis – perhaps more so than most other individuals.

With the increased use of artificial light, most people are now exposed to light no matter whether it is day or night, so it can be easy for the body to get confused about when it should be awake or asleep.

The effects of artificial light are so powerful that sleeping with the lights on can decrease melatonin, the ‘sleep hormone’, levels by as much as 85%, making it difficult to fall into a deep sleep.

Our eyes are especially sensitive to ‘blue light’, which is not only produced by electronic devices, but also energy-efficient LED and fluorescent light bulbs that are typical of most dental care settings.

Blue wavelengths in both natural and artificial lighting can boost your attention and mood, helping you to stay awake and alert.

In fact, research shows that our brains are more active when we are exposed to bright ambient light. This is a beneficial process during the working hours of the day, but one that can be very disruptive if you are attempting to sleep.

Continual disruption of our internal body clock can have far-reaching, adverse effects on our general health. This is an issue associated with the prevalence of sleep disorders such as insomnia.

It is hard to ignore the fact that dental professionals could be putting themselves at an increased risk of health-related problems as a result of excessive exposure to artificial light.

Adapt your environment

Thankfully, there are steps that practitioners can take in order to limit the amount of artificial light that they, and their patients, are exposed to. Where possible, it is important that dentists spend as much time as they can outside in natural light.

Additionally, ‘smart’ light bulbs can be installed throughout the practice. The colour and intensity of these bulbs can be controlled via a mobile app, enabling you to avoid unnecessary exposure to harsh artificial light. This can also help to create a warm, welcoming, and comfortable environment for patients.

In some cases, it might be worth upgrading your surgery with the help of an experienced surgery design team.

Clark Dental not only supplies a wide range of dental equipment packages with advanced lighting features, it also provides a bespoke surgery design service.

With the team’s extensive knowledge and expertise, you could benefit from designing a practice that utilises as much natural light as possible, while capitalising on the benefits of artificial light – all of which are essential to facilitating the delivery of high-quality dentistry.

Lights ultimately play a significant role in the way we live. So long as we remain aware of how artificial light can negatively affect us, we can adopt appropriate measures to minimise our exposure to it and ensure a good night’s sleep for the benefit of long-term general health.

For a list of references, contact [email protected]

For more information, call Clark Dental on  01268 733 146, email [email protected] or visit

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