Practice Tips #94: How to Correct Operating Light "Drifting"

Keeping your operating light in the proper position is very important for illuminating your patient's oral cavity. The daily wear and tear on the various joints and pivots can impede proper function of your light that can cause it to drift.

Due to what your light is used for, it needs to have the ability to move in various directions to allow proper positioning. What you don't want is "drifting." Drifting can refer to any unwanted movement in the vertical or horizontal planes.

For the Pelton & Crane Light Fantastic series of lights, American Dental Accessories offers a variety of components to eliminate unwanted light movement.

If the light is drifting from side to side: make sure the vertical post is plumb/level on post mounted and ceiling mounted lights. Refer to your owner's manual for information on how to level the post on your light. It could also be that the wave washers are worn or the snubbing pin is loose. Tighten or replace the snubbing pin and replace the wave washers. We have a drift kit which consists 1 flat washer, 1 wave washer, & 1 snubbing pin that can fix your problem and stabilize side to side head drift.

If the light head is drifting downwards or upwards in the yoke: the reflector pivot bushings should be tightened or replaced. These are a very common items that wear out.

If the entire light arm is drooping: the main arm spring will need to be adjusted and maybe even replaced. Use a spring tool if you need to tighten the arm or replace the springs.

The diagram below illustrates the various planes of movement of a Pelton and Crane light, as well as the components responsible for controlling these types of movement. All operating lights move in these directions and will have similar components.


For example, if you are fixing the drift on a Belmont operatory light, there is a tool for adjusting the main arm tension. Just as with the Pelton & Crane light, the main arm spring can be adjusted to provide appropriate tension.

When it comes to doing your own dental equipment repair, having the proper tools and repair parts will save you a service call and money. With the mentioned components above, you will be able to keep your light aimed where you want it to and shed some light on your patient’s oral health.


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