Whether used for making a small adjustment or for endodontic surgery, dental handpieces are an essential part of any dental practice. The first dental drills may have been developed thousands of years ago, but today’s handpieces have come a long way. Here’s a basic breakdown of the most common types of handpieces and how they’re being used today.
High-speed (air-turbine) handpiece
These precision devices are designed for efficient removal of hard tissue with no need for pressure, heat or vibration. They can vary by design, shape and construction material, and they generally run between 250,000 and 400,000 rpm. Features such as attachment type, head size, light source (for example, fiber-optic lights), handpiece weight and motor noise vary by brand.
Low-speed (air-turbine) handpiece
This is essentially a handheld motor that’s usually air-driven or electric. It spins the dental bur and prophy cup on average at 50,000 rpm. These devices commonly are used for removing caries, as well as refining cavity preparations in endodontic procedures such as root canals. Features can vary: for example, whether the device has air or water nozzles. These handpieces are made from a range of increasingly lightweight materials with ergonomically angled designs.
Electric dental handpiece systems are powerful contra-angle tools that save time and increase accuracy for a variety of procedures. The motorized torque of electric motors reduces the need for air-driven precision and can be of great help to dentists when working in tight spaces or difficult angles. They come in a variety of styles.
These are designed specifically for oral surgeries. The air-driven handpieces notably feature grated vents that prevent air from spraying into the oral cavity during surgery.
These specialized instruments are designed for cleaning and shaping canals during root canal treatments and driving endodontic files with precision, while also preventing file breakage or binding.
Specially designed for oral and maxillofacial surgery, these handpieces are made of high-quality stainless steel with a special coating, making them especially hardworking.
With dental handpieces now such a critical part of patient care it’s not only important to know the various types of handpieces, but also how to properly care for them. By following some basic maintenance tips and best practices, as outlined in this blog post, you can extend the life of your dental handpieces and ensure they are always at the ready and in good working order.
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This article originally appeared in the December edition of OnTarget. Read the latest edition and view current promotions at pattersondental.com/dental/ontarget.