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Tech Tips #10: Ultrasonic Scalers- Piezo vs. Magnetostrictive

Ultrasonic Scalers: Piezo vs. Magnetostrictive

Ultrasonic scalers are great labor-saving devices which many find indispensable. Having an electronic instrument that vibrates 25,000 times (or more) every second can be extremely useful and can be an effective way of providing treatment in a variety of procedures.

But what to choose? There are piezo ultrasonic units, magnetostrictive “Cavitrons™”, and even sonic scalers that connect to your unit like a standard handpiece. All of these units use mechanical means to create vibrations but they all do it in different ways.

Sonic Scaler

First, the handpiece scaler. More properly these are referred to as sonic scalers (rather than ultrasonic) as they normally operate at only 6 kHz. Given the lower frequency, they are less powerful than ultrasonic units. The Star Titan is one of the best-known models of handpiece scaler, but there are many others.

Also known as air scalers, these scalers use a metal cylinder (rotor) balanced between o-rings to provide vibration when air pressure is applied. These attach to a standard handpiece coupler on your delivery system and operate at normal handpiece drive air pressure (32-35 psi).

Magnetostrictive Scaler

Next, we have magnetostrictive ultrasonic units. One of the most well-known brands is the Dentsply Cavitron™, but there are hundreds of other brands and models on the market that operate the same way.

Magnetostrictive scalers have metal stacks that vibrate and provide an elliptical motion of the tip. These scalers are usually considered easier to use (less technique sensitive) but are sometimes considered as less gentle.

These units are now offered in 25 kHz or 30 kHz frequencies. This technology has been around for a long time and historically, the magnetostrictive has been the most popular ultasonic design in the United States.

Piezo Scaler

The newest introduction to the US market is the piezo ultrasonic units. Piezo’s have been around for a long time but have been predominately used in Europe.

Piezo ultrasonics have ceramic stacks that provide linear motion and generally operate at a frequency of about 32-35 kHz.

Piezo’s are more technique sensitive given the linear motion of the tips. One must use the scaler parallel to the tooth surface to avoid “hammering” with the piezo tip. When used properly, many consider the piezo to be more gentle than magnetostrictive scalers.

Piezo Scalers generally have a wider range of tips and are becoming quite popular with dentists for endodontics and some surgical procedures in addition to perio and the more commonly expected hygiene procedures.

American Dental Accessories, Inc. has a full line of ultrasonic units and replacement parts available.

American Dental Accessories, Inc.

We offer every day low prices, free technical support, and friendly service 64 hours a week. Call 1-800-331-7993 or order online now!

©2009 American Dental Accessories, 7310 Oxford Street, Minneapolis, MN 55426.


Related posts:

  1. Tech Tips #68: Is your Cavitron™ dry?
  2. Tech Tips #1: What is “Tech Tips”?
  3. Tech Tips #11: Delivery Unit Holders
  4. Tech Tips #24: Amalgam Separators
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  1. Dr. Miranov
    Posted July 24, 2013 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    I have a Art Piezo Ultrasonic Scaler Micromotor, MODEL # ART-SP2 which is in need of repair. Please advise if you are aware of any place I might send it.

    Best regards,
    Dr. Miranov

  2. TechGuru
    Posted July 25, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the inquiry. American Dental Accessories offers repairs on a wide range of small equipment, including ultrasonic scalers, so by all means forward your unit to us.

    Just package it carefully and ship it pre-paid via any insured carrier to:
    Attn: Repairs
    American Dental Accessories, Inc.
    7310 Oxford St.
    Mpls, MN 55426

    Be sure to enclose your full name, address, phone number, and the name of whomever we should contact with any questions. As soon as we receive and evaluate the unit, we’ll call you with an estimate.

  3. Gini Landis, RDH
    Posted July 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I have recently been hired at a dental office that uses Piezo’s ( a Vista P5). I am a Cavitron gal and am unfamiliar with this machine. No one here has every used it either as I have replaced the only hygienist. Is there somewhere I can obtain a tutorial on Piezo’s? Literature or web-minar? The manufacturer only pointed me to our Henry Schein sales rep!!

    • TechGuru
      Posted July 9, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the question!

      We can tell you that when using a piezo scaler you want to use the side of the tip more and keep the tip more parallel to the tooth.

      Also, exercise caution when installing tips onto the handpiece. Normally you should be able to securely screw the tips down by hand and only use the tip tool to remove the tip. It’s easy to over-tighten the tips if you use the tool and you can damage the handpiece. Only use the tool to tighten tips if you have trouble with them working loose during use (uncommon, but possible).

      We don’t know of any specific places to find tutorials nor webinars on the use of the piezo, however. Sorry.

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