The Different Varieties of Handpiece Have Different Advantages—and Different Repair Needs
Every artist, tradesperson, or specialist has more than one tool. A carpenter has different saws, a painter has different brushes—even Jimi Hendrix had more than one guitar! And as a dentist, you’re no different. You have a variety of tools that serve individual purposes, helping you do the best work that you possibly can. This includes a variety of different dental handpieces, separated by their speed or their power source. One of the keys to understanding dental handpiece repair is understanding how these drills are different and what their individual functions and advantages are.
When it comes to handpiece speed, it’s not quite as simple as less versus more—the low-speed models are in no way an inferior product, but simply one with an altogether different purpose. Low-speed models are used for all the heavy work, and their speed range (between 20,000 and 40,000 RPM) is perfectly suited to this purpose. This includes removing caries, preparing cavities for fillings, and even removing old, worn-down crowns or fillings.
High-speed handpieces, on the other hand, are drills that are designed for much more precision work—and the speed at which they rotate is enough to make your head spin. The maximum speeds can range between 250,000 and 400,000 RPM, perfect shaping a filling or crown, polishing teeth, or other restoration work. Because they run so hot, keeping on top of dental handpiece repair is essential.
Many of the fastest drills in the business are air-driven handpieces. Using compressed air as a power source, these models include a turbine that may need regular replacement, but are capable of incredible speeds of up to 400,000 RPM.
Advances in the electric motor have made their way to the dental handpiece, and the results are impressive. While the typical high-speed electric handpiece may not be as swift as its air-driven counterpart, it’s perfectly suited to low-speed applications, and has its own unique advantage in both configurations: torque. Electric handpieces are able to maintain a consistent level of torque at every speed, a distinct mechanical advantage in its own right. Electric models also run more quietly—perfect for younger patients or patients who experience anxiety related to dental care.
The Bottom Line
Is one type of drill clearly superior to the rest? Not at all—each one is well-suited to its particular function, and to deliver exceptional care, it pays to have access to the individual advantages of each. But remember, each one has its own unique maintenance needs, and it always pays to stay on top of your dental handpiece repair schedule.