Dental Loupes Vs. Microscopes: Which is the Best Choice for You and Your Practice?

ErgoPractice News – September 2023
By Dr. George Grayson BS, M.Sc. D.D.Ds. F.A.G.D., Biology/Biological Sciences, General, Immunology and Microbiology, General Dentistry


If you’re a new dentist, you may be wondering if you should purchase dental loupes or a standing microscope for procedures and treatment. Here we cover the benefits of loupes and the reasons why they may be the best choice for you and your practice.

To learn more, we interviewed George Grayson, D.D.S. about his experiences with dental loupes and microscopes. A private practitioner of over 40 years, Dr. Grayson is a fellow of The Pierre Fauchard Academy, The Academy of Dentistry International, The International Congress of Oral Implantologists, and the Academy of General Dentistry.

He owns Centre Dental Clinic in Windsor, Ontario, where he focuses on implant and general dentistry. Dr. Grayson graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Science degree (BS, M.Sc. D.D.Ds. F.A.G.D., Biology/Biological Sciences, General, Immunology and Microbiology, General Dentistry).

Interview with Dr. George Grayson

Question: Does a standing microscope cost more than dental loupes?

  1. Yes. A standing microscope usually costs between $13,000 and $70,000 US. Purchasing microscope add-ons such as a camera or other attachments can up the cost. A pair of quality loupes usually cost in the range of $2,000 to $4,000.

Question: What about magnification?

  1. When asked about the magnification ability of loupes and microscopes, Dr. Grayson advises, “Loupes and microscopes are equivalent at 5, 6, and 10 powers. Why would I want to buy a microscope when loupe magnification is the same as a microscope? And, if you accidentally drop your loupes they are inexpensive enough that you can have an extra pair or two on backup.”

Question: Can I work faster with loupes?

  1. Loupes offer more flexibility compared to microscopes. Dr. Grayson explains, “Let’s say I’ve got three rooms with patients. I can’t easily take a microscope with me and I don’t want to move patients from room to room. Moving a rolling cart from room to room takes time, which impacts my efficiency and profitability.” Dr. Grayson also mentions, “You can buy a microscope for each chair, but then the price is doubled or tripled. It’s too cost-prohibitive to have a microscope for every chair.”

    He also mentions that a dentist using a microscope may be able to do a $200 restoration in an hour. By using loupes, they may be able to complete two restorations in the same length of time, which equals $400. If you double your earnings, you can pay for your loupes in about a year. Also, loupes allow you to work at a faster pace and see more patients in a day.

Question: Are loupes easier to use?

  1. A microscope is a heavy device that is affixed to the room or moved on a cart. Moving one usually requires the help of an assistant. Loupes are fully portable – you can easily move from chair to chair.

    Dr. Grayson says, “At times, you’ll need to slightly move your head to see clearly. This can be more difficult to do with a microscope. Loupes make in-home or nursing home visits possible. One time the power went out in my office. I finished a procedure using the battery-powered light on my loupes. I can even work in the dark during a power outage! You can’t do that with a microscope.”

Question: Can loupes help with neck and back pain?

  1. Depending on your height and build, a standing microscope can be difficult to use long-term. For example, a doctor who is 6 foot 4 inches in height may need to stand in a bent forward position to use a microscope. A doctor may develop pain after weeks or months of holding his neck, back, shoulders, and arms in a non-ergonomic position. Loupes are designed to provide an ergonomically correct standing or seated position and fitted to a person’s unique height and size.

    Dr. Grayson adds, “With SurgiTel’s ErgoDeflection loupes, a physician can keep his head level and still see downward. He can stand vertically and still look down instead of leaning forward.” He adds, “I’ve been wearing loupes since 1985. I have no arm pain, no neck pain, and no strain in my shoulders.”

Question: Equipment Problems: What if my microscope or loupes need repair?

  1. If your loupes break, they can often be repaired in a week or two. Plus, loupes are economically priced so a dentist can keep an extra pair on hand.

    If your microscope has a chipped lens or moves out of alignment, you may be down for the remainder of the day. Dr. Grayson mentions, “If your microscope is down, you’ve got a problem. It could be several days or weeks before it’s serviced and repaired.”

Question: I’ve seen inexpensive loupes for sale online. Won’t they work just as well?

  1. Dr. Grayson advises, “Beware of loupes with inexpensive LED lights that emit strong blue light over 6,000 Kelvin as this light intensity can cause eye strain and create blue light hazard. I recommend custom-designed, Through-The-Lens (TTL) loupes. They offer optimal declination and inter-pupillary distances. You’ll be able to see clearly from an ergonomically correct angle.”

    Dr. Grayson adds, “Loupes offer greater portability at less cost compared to microscopes. They are equal to a microscope in 8 to 10 power and I can easily see internal aspects as small as 10 microns. Loupes allow you to quickly diagnose, shape, create, and finish the workday without body pain or stress.

    I consider loupes my important tool. For new dentists, loupes are essential and should definitely be on a doctor’s equipment list.”

SurgiTel offers a complete selection of Vision and Ergonomic products including, magnification loupes (2.5x to 10.0x), several true-color LED headlight options, ergonomically designed stools, and loupe-mountable HD cameras.

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