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  • Writer's pictureJack Nunnink

Dental Handpiece Care & Maintenance

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

Dental handpieces are not inexpensive, but luckily they can withstand years of use. However, they are very delicate and fragile. You do need to keep on top of maintenance to avoid premature failure (and having to call us!). Not only that, it will ensure your equipment will operate effectively.

When customers reach out to us for dental handpiece repairs, a proportion of issues are as a direct result of poor care and maintenance. Now, this isn’t due to people not caring about their equipment, but sometimes it’s simply having a lack of knowledge.

clean and flush handpiece

In this guide, we’ll take you through some steps you can take to prevent dental handpiece failure. All it takes is a few small adjustments to your routine, and you’ll likely have a piece of equipment that will last you many years at top performance.

Clean and Flush

Super simple, but remains your first port of call. Always clean and flush your handpiece after every use. Remember to use a soft brush, as this will prevent any accidental damage. Use a little bit of neutral detergent when you clean, as it prevents bacteria from building up. Remember, cleaning gels have strong abrasive elements, which can lead to mechanical wear. Don’t use hot water, as it can lead to coagulation inside the instrument.

You probably do this already (at least, we certainly hope so!), but we just want to reiterate that you should not cut corners when taking this step. It’s such a simple way of avoiding issues long-term.

We get that you’ll be doing it after each and every contact with a different patient’s mouth, which can lead to a laissez faire attitude; but just make sure you clean and flush thoroughly each!

silk line handpiece

Cleaning Fibre Optics

It is important to take plenty of time when cleaning the fibre optics of your dental handpiece. Use a cotton tip, dab it in a bit of alcohol and clean. This will serve to remove any debris or oil still left on the surface of the optics.

This is an important step, as it will prevent discoloration. Further, it will prevent any buildup of gunk or other products on the surface of your instrument.

Cleaning handpieces

Focus on Lubrication

Again, avoiding this comes under the ‘lazy’ habits. Plenty of customers do not lubricate often enough.

To avoid any such issues, apply a lubricant to your dental handpiece after cleaning. Use just a quality oil specifically designed for dental handpieces, and spray via the rear of the handpiece with the correct nozzle for that model. Only spray until oil expels from the head, and no longer. Too much, or too little, oil will cause bearing issues – particularly with high-speed handpieces.

Of course, it is also possible to use an automatic lubrication solution. With these units, ensure that the relevant instructions are followed – particularly relating to the settings for different types of handpieces, and the filters.

High and low speed handpieces

Sterilise your Handpiece

Once you are done cleaning and lubricating your handpiece, it is time to sterilise your equipment. You will use an autoclave steam steriliser, and always make sure you follow the instructions given to you by your manufacturer.

Be Patient; Let it Cool and Dry Naturally

When you are finished with the cleaning and sterilising process, exercise a little bit of patience. Allow your dental handpiece to cool and dry completely before use.

You should never use the handpiece before it’s had a chance to fully cool down. Do not take additional steps to speed up the process, such as running it through cold water. This can only serve to damage your equipment

Always Read the Instructions!

When you buy a pair of headphones or a new iPhone, we get that you chuck out those instructions the minute you open the package. But dental handpieces do not equal common consumer products!

We’ve given you generic advice on cleaning your dental handpiece; these steps apply to pretty much any standard product. Yet it always helps to read the instructions that came bundled with your specific make. It also means you’re covered in case you need to chase the warranty, should failure occur

dental handpiece instructions

Finally, if you do have any issues with your dental handpiece, please get in touch. We’re a family-run business with over twenty years of experience, and are very happy to advise on the best steps to get your equipment up and running in no time.

Useful Links - Maintenance of your Handpieces:

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