“What magnification did you order?” This is the first question I asked my colleagues when the Loupes Fair came to LECOM School of Dental Medicine. Dental loupes became an obsession for me and my research partner, Melissa Matick, in January. The buzz within the first-year class was about which brand was best and which magnification each student had chosen. Melissa and I did want to know these answers, but we also wanted to dig deeper. We wanted to know what they hoped to gain from the use and their previous exposure to loupes. The results of our research provided valuable insight about the LECOM class of 2022. How can you pick the best dental loupes for you?
Institution and mentor recommendations
Before you consider purchasing loupes, review your institution’s recommendation for them. If it doesn’t have an official policy, there are many resources to help you make an informed decision. The top three people to ask are mentors and dentists, school faculty and upperclassmen in your program.
As we reported in our study, the top two most influential sources of information to our participants included dental professional mentors and school faculty. Fifty-eight percent of participants had shadowed a dentist or dental specialist who used loupes for all procedures.
Ask experienced dentists how many pairs of loupes they have owned throughout their career. What are the best features of their favorite pair? How would they rate the customer support of the brand? Like any type of research, it is good to have a large and diverse sample size.
Consider your budget
After gathering general information about dental loupes, consider your budget. This may determine the quality or the timing of your purchase. Loupes vary widely in cost, so finalizing a budget ensures you get the most bang for your buck.
When asking participants about their budget for this tool, 65% put aside $1,000 to $2,000. Outside of the survey, we noticed many students started with inexpensive brands they ordered from online stores. While these loupes allow the same immediate advantages, our participants communicated that they valued reliability and longevity of the dental loupes they invest in.
Magnification selection is a big component of loupes selection. They will enhance your practice of dentistry once you’re in the clinician’s chair. Our participants state that ergonomics is an important factor in choosing one magnification over another.
The results of our survey showed 52% of participants chose 3.5 magnification to begin in dental school, followed by 2.5 magnification for 29% of the participants. Is there a right or wrong magnification for incoming students? Some may suggest a range of appropriate magnifications based on their personal experience. I suggest keeping an open mind and choosing the product and strength of magnification that feels the most comfortable for you.
Make the most of your try-on appointment
Similar to your budget, another crucial parameter in deciding on a pair of dental loupes is the try-on process. The majority of predental and dental students have heard the phrase, “try before you buy,” and purchasing your loupes is no different. Each pair is different, but company representatives are more than willing to present products to small groups.
I encourage students to try products on in an order once the meeting is set. It can be overwhelming to see all of the loupes a brand has. Start with the most basic pair with the lowest magnification and gradually work your way up. Once you have tried on all available magnifications, work backwards and narrow down your preferences. Typically, the higher magnification of the loupes, the narrower the overall field of view becomes.
Like all major purchases, I would encourage you to take a few days to think it over before placing an order. To quote Marie Kondo, organizing consultant and author, ask yourself: “Does it spark joy?” If you are not thrilled with the brand, the magnification, the feel of it on your face or the customer service, keep searching until you find what does spark joy.
As a pair of student researchers, Melissa and I hope to spark interest in dental magnification early on. We wish every student the best in their studies and in their pursuit of making the best educated decision and purchase of dental loupes.
~Shelby Anderson, LECOM ’22