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Extend the Life of Your Dental Handpieces

Handpieces are the most vital part of a dentist’s surgical equipment. While there are handpieces in all shapes and sizes for any dental procedure, it follows that the ones for more common tasks will get the most wear and tear. Dental handpieces can be an expensive outlay when setting up or refitting a practice, and they are used at almost every appointment, so keeping them in good shape is essential. Maintenance is important not just because of the functionality of the handpiece, but also its cleanliness - infection control and sterilization measures are also factors. For the comfort of your patients and the quality of your work, here’s how to extend the life of your dental handpieces. 


Keeping your handpieces clean goes a long way to ensuring their longevity, as do regular maintenance checks, and correct usage. Simple things such as understanding the proper pressure levels can have a positive impact. Make sure you keep the manuals for your handpieces, and consult them as required. The equipment must be wiped down after each use, and cleaned with warm water and mild detergent before any further steps such as lubrication can be taken. Never submerge the handpiece in water, or use any chemicals to clean it. 

Understand the handpiece

To be able to care for your dental handpieces its important that you know and understand how they work, beyond being able to operate them. Get to know the different parts, such as the drive air port, which grants access to the turbine, as well as being the place you need to lubricate regularly. 

Lubricate the handpiece

The handpiece’s internal components work better when properly lubricated. For best results remove the bur before lubricating. It also helps to eliminate germs and bacteria. Be generous with the amount of oil you use – most users tend to under lubricate, as they wish to avoid clogging it. Clogging can be a problem, but if you apply until you see oil coming out of the port, that’s generally a good indication that you’ve got the right amount. 

Clean after lubricating

To expel any excess oil from the handpiece after lubricating it, replace the bur, attach the handpiece to the delivery system and run it for around 30 seconds. You can use an air flush to perform the same function. It’s important to remove the oil to ensure the handpiece runs well. 

Trust the experts

You should always consult the manual before cleaning your handpiece for the first time, or if you’re considering minor repairs. But repairs are best left to the experts – a company with good workmanship can be quality and affordable. You may be within warranty – trying to repair the handpiece yourself may invalidate it. 

Clear the light of debris

The light on a handpiece is very important, to ensure the quality of your work and the comfort of your patients. The light can attract debris, which if allowed to build up, can cause the brightness to fade or the light to break. Use alcohol and a cotton swab to clean all fibreoptic surfaces – this should be done regularly, whether you can see debris or not. 

Release the tension

Dental handpieces contain springs and lever which can compress due to heating, and over time can weaken. You can release the tension in the handpiece by removing the burr and rereleasing the chuck when you clean or sterilise it. The chuck itself needs some TLC as well – lubricate it at least once a week, especially if the handpiece is used often. 

Things to avoid

  • Don’t use damaged or unclean burs – they will compromise the quality of your work, and the life span of your handpiece.
  • Don’t exceed the recommended pressure during use – exceeding this pressure could cause your handpiece to wear out quicker. 
  • Don’t drop the handpiece – this goes without saying really, but handpieces are fragile, and components can be damaged if they’re dropped. 
  • Don’t use unless your bur is attached securely – not only you can damage the tip of the handpiece’s head, you also increase the risks of breaking your bur.
  • Don’t use a high-speed handpiece without water – this can cause it to overheat, not only damaging the equipment, but potentially injuring your patient. 

Keeping your tools in good order is vital to the success of your business. So, make sure you care for your handpieces, or your work, your patients, and your business will suffer. 

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