American Dental Tech Blog

Monthly Archives: April 2009

  • Tech Tips #9: Handpiece Maintenance & Repair

    Lower Your Overhead: Maintenance & Simple Repair

    Your handpieces are some of the most vital pieces of equipment in your practice. To have a handpiece fail can seriously damage productivity, or worse, injure a patient. Naturally, you should always have plenty of handpieces on hand, but to maximize handpiece performance and turbine life, proper maintenance is crucial. According to repair shops, inadequate or improper maintenance is the #1 cause of premature failure for handpieces.

    Sterilization

    In accordance with FDA and CDC recommendations, after each use on a patient the handpiece should be sterilized. Prior to sterilization, clean the handpiece with a handpiece cleaner by dropping a few drops in the drive air hole (see diagram below) and running the handpiece until all debris has been flushed. Repeat this process as necessary until only debris-free cleaner is expelled from the handpiece. It is best to have a dedicated flushing system in the sterilization area for this purpose and to avoid contaminating your equipment.

    Lubrication

    Once the handpiece has been thoroughly cleaned and flushed, sterilize the handpiece in a chemical vapor or steam sterilizer at or below 275º F. After sterilization, allow handpiece to cool completely and lubricate the handpiece with handpiece lubricant. A few drops of lubricant (or a quick spray) should be placed into the drive air hole of the handpiece per the following diagram:

     

    lubrication-diagram

    After placing lubricant, the handpiece should be run for approximately 5 seconds to distribute the lubricant throughout the turbine.

    For autochuck (push button or Power Lever™) turbines, at least once a week lubricate the chuck by placing a few drops of lubricant into the bur end of the turbine and then placing a bur within and gently moving it back and forth with the chuck opened.

    For slow speed attachments, spray lubricant up into the mechanism and rotate by hand or install on a motor and run for a few seconds to distribute the lubricant.

    A Note on Electric Handpiece Maintenance

    The FDA’s March 2008 MedWatch Safety Alert discussed the risk of burning one’s patient as a result of improperly maintained electric handpieces. The FDA determined that the handpiece caused burns when worn or clogged; a quality flushing and lubricating system will help prevent these issues.

    With proper maintenance you should get full performance from all your handpieces well beyond the manufacturer’s warranty period.

    For additional Handpiece Maintenance & Repair information see: The Blue Handbook: How to Care for Your Dental Handpiece.