Cliff's Notes

The Business of Dentistry

Dental Handpiece Maintenance “The Truth Behind Dental Handpiece Breakdown is Dirt”!

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It is true that sterilization does shorten the life of your handpieces, just like bad road conditions shorten the life of your car tires and shocks. But, unfortunately it can’t be avoided . However, by performing proper
maintenance on a routine basis you can maximize work time between repairs and reduce the
overall cost of operation.


When dental high-speed air driven handpieces run at full bore, they will turn at 350k-400k rpm. That’s pretty fast and according to the law of physics, friction heat will develop. When two metals with the same molecular structure rub against each other creating a lot of “friction heat” they tend to fuse or distort. That’s when it goes out for repair. If you don’t plan on using an Automatic Maintenance System, then your team has to know how to care for expensive pieces of critical equipment that you use every day and invest a lot of money
into.

A high-speed dental handpiece turbine has 4 basic parts. The chuck, race, ball bearings & impala. The chuck holds the bur and usually has a push-button spring style assembly that opens it to place a rotary instrument. They are designed to close to an ISO standard shank size and must be kept clean to work properly, a build-up of debris will cause a premature failure. The impala is the blade portion of the turbine. The blades catch the 32 psi air blast from the delivery system and spins the chuck. The impala shaft rides on ball bearings traveling through a track called a race. The ball bearings and the race are precision sized so that the impala assembly can turn freely at extreme speed for a prolonged period of time. Note, You have to lubricate the parts continuously. Use an Autoclavable lubricant after the dental procedure is complete and before sterilizing. The lubricant will protect the internal seals form the sterilizer’s excessive heat. That statement contradicts some older methods, however, just like your bonding agents evolve, so does synthetic lubrication. By using a quality lubricant you will clean and lubricate in one step.


Lube Free handpieces are just that, lube free. However, you still need to clean out the the chuck. A non lubricant cleaner has to be sprayed into the head of the handpiece after each use and before sterilization. An automatic system would not apply.


After the procedure, you need to clean your handpiece before autoclaving to remove any organic material. Also don’t forget the fiber optics as organic and other material can attach to the lens during autoclaving and reduce function. Do not use detergents, soaps or disinfectant wipes as they can damage the optics and the rubber “o” rings. Don’t be afraid of cleaning the handpiece in the sink. They are made to get wet, as long as you lubricate and purge before sealing in an autoclave pouch for sterilization. Purging will expel any water and dirt, protect the bearings during sterilization and have the handpiece ready for use from the pouch.

February 7, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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