A good handpiece is practically an extension of a dentist’s hand, and there is no piece of dental equipment used as often as handpieces. The quality of the work a dentist can produce depends, in large part, on the quality and capability of the handpiece they use.
If you’re in the market for a new handpiece, how do you decide which one is right for you? The following tips may help.
- Know the difference. Electric handpieces are precise in measurement in terms of their manufacture, and if they’re not paired with the exact equipment they were designed to work with, they can quickly overheat. They tend to provide a more consistent sensation, which patients prefer, and they’re quieter than air-driven handpieces. On the other hand, handpieces that are powered by compressed air provide greater torque and speed and they’re lightweight. However, their speed can vary when they meet with resistance.
- Get experience. You may prefer one type of handpiece (electric or air-driven) over the other kind, but it is best to have experience using both. You don’t know when you might be in the position of having only your non-preferred type at hand. And being a well-rounded practitioner adept in using both electric and air-driven high-speed handpieces is a useful skill to have.
- Understand the speeds. High-speed handpieces won’t last as long as low-speed handpieces because they work much harder, but they are must-haves for precision-sensitive procedures such as occlusal adjustments to restorations. Low-speed handpieces are great for preventive procedures, including prophylaxis, and for removing decayed tissue close to the pulp.
- Get it lit. Adequate lighting during instrumentation improves visibility. LED light is cooler than traditional halogen lighting and lasts longer, so verify that a handpiece has LED lighting before you purchase it.
- Choose the right size. Be mindful of size; if a handpiece has a head that’s too large, you may struggle to make precise and minute adjustments to restorations or to work in the mouths of patients with limited opening. Choose handpieces with heads that are perfectly sized for the task at hand.
- Select a reputable vendor. Whichever dental handpiece motor you choose, purchase it from a reputable vendor that offers reliable support.
- Maintain the equipment. Things like overheating and sterilization will damage a handpiece over time. To get the most out of your handpieces, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining them and have them repaired by a professional right away if something goes wrong.
- Keep it sterilized. One of the most important things to determine when purchasing a handpiece is whether it can be properly sterilized. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “if a dental handpiece cannot be heat sterilized and does not have [Food and Drug Administration] clearance with validated instructions for reprocessing, [dental healthcare providers] should not use that device.”
- Make the investment. It can be tempting to focus on the cost of equipment and search for the least expensive solution when shopping for handpieces. A high-quality handpiece is worth investing in because you’ll get many years of reliable use out of it, and you’ll save money on repair costs.