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View From The Chairside

View from the Chairside: Is magnification through wearing loupes essential to perform dentistry?



By Dr. Richard Anderson 

In dentistry, we are more likely to think in terms of microns and millimeters than meters and kilometers.

The mouth is a tricky place to work in as tooth defects are small and challenging to see and handle. For a while, I have been using a pair of loupes that I feel fit me so well, I cannot picture myself working without them. A colleague told me that he bought two pairs of premium prismatics and has another pair in his car, in case he’s called in unexpectedly for an emergency. It is clear that just like me, he enjoys the benefits of magnification that loupes provide. 

Newer loupe users may prefer a 2.5x magnification. I think I’m ready to step it up to at least a 3x for most of my dental procedures, at a slight sacrifice of a smaller field of view. I will also be looking for fiber-optic lighting attached to a frame as a key feature. A well-lit visualization of the affected area, independent of where the overhead light is directed, outweighs the inconvenience of its added weight. Of course, the loupes will need to be comfortable and thoroughly protect my eyes from splash-back.

As another alternative, some dentists invest in incorporating a microscope into their general dentistry practice and train their staff to use this technology. One advantage the dental operating microscope has is that it allows an even greater ergonomic operator position.

On the other hand, there are dentists for whom magnification just doesn’t work due to a restricted field of view, and they believe that quality clinical care can still be given just as well as when wearing loupes.

Is magnification essential to perform dental procedures at our best? The answer, in my opinion, will rest with each clinician. I would like to know what you think: do you use loupes or a microscope in your practice?  Why? Why not? 

Hopefully this post illuminates the topic and allows you to have a closer look into your own practices.



  1. George December 4, 2013

    I could not work without loupes and a headlight. For the last twenty three years I have wondered how much I was seeing before. My current loupes have a feather light LED lamp. My old loupes live in the lab and come with me on house calls. There is certainly a learning curve but the rewards are great. Quite interesting giving your first mandibular block with your loupes on. Got to watch where the needle is going!

  2. Name December 4, 2013

    Used loupes with every procedure 3.5X would not work without them

  3. Devinder Sehgal December 10, 2013

    I am using Loupes and light for last ten years. I would not work without Loupes.

  4. Robert Wolanski December 10, 2013

    I started with flip down magnification 24 years ago and some dentist made fun of me especially when I attached the light a few years later. The same dentists now use similar magnification devices. I predict the same will happen with a microscope. I have had mine for 8 years. Anyone who has used a scope knows “it changes everything”. You instantly become a better dentist. Now that I am 52, magnification is essential but I have always found it critical.

  5. John Sciuk December 12, 2013

    Loupes and headlights are “the crack cocaine” of dentistry. I can’t practice without them. Have you seen how small teeth are without loupes?


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