Happy New Year to new and returning readers! I’m excited to introduce to you The Pre-Dental Guide’s Ergonomic series: a series of blog posts where I’m going to share ergonomic lessons I’ve learned (the hard way) and how to best take care of our bodies preventively to sustain a healthy relationship with your mind, body, and dentistry. Two of the best ways dentists can achieve this is by 1) having a custom set of loupes to limit postural discomfort and 2) making a mindful practice of ergonomics every day. To kick off this series, this inaugural blog post will focus on Four Factors You Must Understand When Purchasing Your Loupes.
In this blog post, my goal is to provide you with four key factors I wish I knew back in dental school to feel confident in choosing my first set of loupes. From personal experience, I found investing in your first pair of loupes to be a financial decision that often becomes clouded by overstimulation and decision paralysis at the sight of endless choices combined with lack of loupe education. At the end of this short 5-minute read, you will be equipped with a summary of how to tackle your loupe vendor fair to make the most informed and stress-free decision.
Factor 1: Preliminary Research (& Cost!)
Just like shopping on Amazon or our favorite retail stores, it’s important to get the specs of our desired product and read customer reviews. While this is not a comprehensive list, here are six major loupe/light company vendors I have seen circulate around dental schools and conferences in the last six years, with the top three of which I have used. (linked below)
I recommend taking a look at these websites to answer your basic questions of
“What is the cost difference for each magnification/design?” - these websites will often provide a baseline price or send you a quote
“What loupe designs do you offer?” you are likely most interested in either ergonomic/ direct vision loupes
“What magnifications do you offer?” - usually 3.5, 4.5, or 5.5
“What light packages do you offer?” - ie. battery pack, cordless ie. magnetic/ hybrid necklace
Once you have this foundational information, you can now enter the loupe fair with a focused interest. The most valuable thing to grasp from the in-person loupe vendor fair is finding the most comfortable “fit” of loupes which you can not obtain from an online search.
Factor 2: Fit, Comfort and Magnification
Fit: Each individual’s fit will vary. For example, I have a flatter nose bridge and don’t wear any corrective lenses. My custom fit will vary greatly than my peers. In my experience, most loupe companies will offer these types of adaptations such as adjustable nose adaptation pieces and strap attachments.
Comfort: The biggest complaint of comfort often comes down to weight. The weight of a loupe will depend on material used ie. plastic (lighter) or metal (heavier). Most importantly noted, weight often comes at a trade-off for strength of material. I recommend choosing a tolerable balance of weight and strength to optimize comfort for you.
Additional: If you use a light magnet, your loupes will of course be heavier at the benefit of being cord-free.
Magnification: Most students are selecting between 3.5x, 4.5x, or 5.5x magnification. Let’s say you are restoring a #3 MO composite.
With a 3.5x, you will see most of the upper right quadrant.
With a 4.5x, you will see #2, 3, and 4.
With a 5.5x, you will see #3, and half of the adjacent teeth.
*Jenny’s advice: for a first year dental student looking to prioritize ergonomics, I would recommend a 3.5 ergo with the goal of upgrading to a larger mag prior before graduating.
Factor 3: Customer service:
Because loupes are a custom made item that may require adjustments, it’s crucial to have a local representative within a reasonable distance (1 hour) of your dental school/practice for repairs, maintenance, and upgrades.
Befriend your local loupe representative! They can be your greatest asset. One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t HAVE to get your loupes measured at the time of the loupe fair. It is actually more accurate and more customized to schedule a meeting with a loupe rep outside of the loupe fair (20 minutes) to get your custom measurement and answer any questions you may have.
Note: I met with a local Enova representative and I loved that he was able to capture an accurate and precise digital measurement (pictured above) without the hustle and bustle of talking to multiple docs at a time outside of my work’s vendor meeting. I was impressed with Enova’s digital measurements to ensure accuracy, in comparison to Q Optics and DFV who did a ruler/digital photo measurement which required post-processing adjustment.
Factor 4: Warranty:
After owning three pairs of loupes with three different vendors, I caution every student to carefully read the warranty section of a loupe company (found on the company website). While loupe representatives may tell you, “our loupes have a lifetime warranty”, I recommend reading the fine print.
Some company websites specify they carry a “lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects'' aka. If they gave you a defective product, it will be repaired. If you break it, you are responsible for repairs.
The beauty of being a dental student though, is that while in school, repairs are relatively more affordable.
Pro tip: If you ever need to send in a repair of your loupes while in dental school, work with your local representative to do this during a strategic time ie. over the holiday/summer break, when you are studying for INDBE, etc. to minimize overlap with patient care or sim lab.
TLDR: if you are a first-year dental student, the “starter-pack” is most popularly a 3.5x mag Ergo Elite loupe with light battery bundle (student price starting at at $1995) which optimizes price ,comfort, and is most user-friendly to you as you are learning how to use indirect vision for the first time. I have had positive experiences with all my loupes. However, having now owned three loupes (DFV, Q-Optics, and Enova), my personal recommendation is Enova as not only does it have the most competitive low cost for students, but I have also been pleasantly surprised with their customer service. With loupe representatives in every major city in the US, I feel confident no matter where I get stationed next in the military or if I pursue specialty training, I will be able to service and maintain my loupes.
If you select Enova as your loupe of choice and found this blog post helpful, share it with a friend in dentistry or hygiene and use the code “TPDG24” online/with your local representative. In our next development of the ergonomic series, we’ll be diving into how ergonomics leads to a lasting career in dentistry (which we are all here to do!).
If you are a pre-dental student and would like to seek assistance in your personal statement or mock interview practice, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message in our chatbox to your right.
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