You might not know it, but your car and your handpiece have something in common. Namely, there comes a point where you must decide whether it’s still worth repairing them.
Sometimes, the decision is easy; other times, it’s a real head-scratcher.
There’s somewhat of a balancing act here. After all, air-driven dental handpieces are a substantial investment for a small dental practice!
So, when is it time to move on from your old, faithful handpiece and invest in a replacement?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re weighing the decision to replace your dental handpiece.
Does The Compressor Have Mildew?
Draining your Compressor every day ensures water won't buildup inside the compressor. Failing to perform this straightforward task will promote the formation of mildew, which can cause compressor backups.
Your handpiece can only function with dry air, and this buildup of water might render the handpiece unusable. Check your compressor for dirt and mildew by emptying them onto a clean, moist cloth.
Eventually, after years of usage, the mildew might be unconquerable. At this point, it's time to purchase a new and improved model.
Is Your Handpiece Getting Rusty?
By now, you probably know you should never completely submerge your handpiece in water. If you do, there's a chance the equipment won't dry out properly and eventually develop internal rust.
All your handpiece’s moving parts are at risk of rust’s destructive force. A repair is no longer an option when there’s over-rusting. You’ll have no choice but to buy a newer, more expensive model.
Is The Turbine Clogged With Oil?
Yes, lubrication is 100% crucial in optimizing your handpiece’s function and lengthening its shelf-life. Still, that doesn’t mean you should be careless with how you apply the lubricant!
More specifically, the correct pieces must be lubricated. Each model has its own nuances on this front. You must read the manual to ensure you're adhering to the manufacturer’s specifications.
And don’t forget to run the handpiece after you’ve applied the lubricant. Failing to perform this step can cause oil to build-up in the turbine.
When this does happen, there’s often the potential for a successful repair ‒ but replacement could well be your only choice.
Is The Handpiece Causing You Downtime?
Here’s where the car analogy in the introduction truly comes into play.
Say you're still driving a 1993 Automobile. It might even – sort of – get you from A to B, but it's slow and unpredictable, always holding on for dear life. You need more from your vehicle to garner any real value from it!
Similarly, you and your patients need more from your handpiece than something that “works” but is dull and cumbersomely inefficient.
First and foremost, poorly functioning handpieces are extraordinarily slow. Not only is that inconvenient and uncomfortable for your patients, but it also hurts your bottom line if you can't see as many people throughout a given day.
Once you notice an abundance of downtime and a lack of efficiency with your handpiece, it’s time to consider moving on.
Can You Find Replacement Parts?
For top brands like Kavo, NSK, Bien Air, Midwest, Scican and Sirona, there’s a wealth of high-quality handpiece replacement parts available for repairs. However, the same cannot be said for all dental handpieces on the market.
Be sure to use only replacement parts made from high-quality materials! Otherwise, it won't be long before you're paying for another repair, or more likely, a full-on handpiece replacement.
Clinicians with smaller hands, or who grasp the equipment close to the working end, often struggle with shorter handpieces due to less torque.
Furthermore, handle designs come in varying diameters, surfaces, weights, and balances. Note that diameters are between 6mm to 16mm.
According to recent research, up to 10mm-diameter handles are considered larger. They don’t necessitate much muscle and pinch force to operate efficiently. Anything more substantial in size won’t provide any extra advantage.
There’s a chance your current handpiece doesn’t meet your ergonomic specifications. In this instance, it’s wise to look for a high-performing, ergonomically inclined replacement ‒ for your sake and your patients’!
Your reputation as a dental professional largely hinges upon the tools you use. Give yourself the best opportunity to flourish in your role by ensuring your practice is equipped with a high-performing, well-maintained handpiece!
PPE, short for personal protective equipment, has always been important to dental professionals. It helps us protect ourselves and our patients from the spread of germs and disease. But with the COVID-19 pandemic this year, wearing PPE is more crucial than ever.
Healthcare professionals are now the most at-risk group for coronavirus as they work in close contact with patients. The challenges surrounding PPE use, as well as the risk of PPE failure is unfolding before our eyes.
As a result, PPE must be used vigilantly by all healthcare professionals, including dentists and dental hygienists.
But one side effect of PPE that isn’t often discussed is the severe skin damages it can cause – especially when preventative measures aren’t taken to combat it.
Here, we’ll highlight how the use of PPE can result in skin damage, how to minimize skin damage, and how your own dental practice can be proactive in mitigating the risk.
Types of Common Skin Damage While Using PPE
A new study on medical workers treating COVID-19 patients discovered that 42.8% of staff experienced serious skin damage linked to the use of PPE. These items included masks, goggles, face shields, and protective gowns.
The study consisted of 2,732 medical respondents. They were among the first healthcare workers fighting coronavirus in emergency departments, screening clinics, isolation areas, infectious branches, and as well as voluntary staff who wore PPE.
According to the study’s findings, 1,844 medical respondents experienced 4,735 skin injuries, equating to 2.6 skin injuries per respondent. Stage 1 injuries were registered by 81.1% of the respondents, 18.3% experienced stage 2, and 0.6% suffered from deep tissue injury.
Researchers discovered three main types of skin injuries relating to PPE: device-related pressure injuries, moisture associated skin damage, and skin tear.
Various factors increased the risk of skin damage. These include heavy sweating, longer daily wearing time, being male, and using grade 3 instead of grade 2 PPE.
Interestingly, skin injuries were more common in males than females, with 59.7% of men experiencing damage compared to 40.5% of women. Doctors were also more likely to suffer skin damage from PPE than nurses, with 51.9% of doctors experiencing injuries than 41.6% of nurses.
Skin injuries from PPE were also more common in the following groups:
Those wearing grade 3 PPE compared those wearing grade 2 (88.5% versus 21.0%)
Those using PPE longer than four hours than those with daily use time equal to or less than four hours (47.3% versus 18.7%)
Those older than 35 than those younger than 35 (46.3% versus 41.2%)
Those with considerable sweating than those without considerable sweating (91.3% versus 17.8%)
Avoiding Skin Damage When Using PPE
The same study also concluded that the treatment of skin injuries relating to PPE was insufficient.
Only 17.7% of respondents applied prophylactic dressings and lotions that protect the skin. Medical staff and managers overlooked skin protection during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic, and respondents received no training or education in prevention.
To prevent damage to the skin when using PPE, dentists and hygienists are advised to use preventative methods such as prophylactic dressings and lotions to avoid tear and injury. If you so become injured, these wounds must be treated immediately with hydrocolloid dressing, oil, or cream to ensure a quick recovery and to avoid infection when treating patients.
Preparing for PPE Skin Injuries During a Pandemic
That’s because medical staff and managers overlooked skin protection during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic. As well as this, respondents received no training or education in prevention and didn’t know how to use dressings.
Of course, in the height of the pandemic, the risk of skin injury is unlikely to be a priority. But today, as dentists and dental hygienists prepare to reopen, we can and should be vigilant.
To reduce the risk of skin injuries and infection in wearing PPE, dental professionals should provide their staff with resources and training in skin protection; and protective items should be chosen and distributed to staff according to guidelines.
As a dental professional, your handpiece is one of your single most important tools of the trade. You’d like to keep this trusted instrument performing good-as-new for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, handpiece maintenance isn’t always as simple as the sales brochure makes it out to be. Keeping a handpiece in top shape requires that you follow a strict regimen of cleaning and lubrication. That’s a lot to ask of anyone in a fast-paced, fully-booked dental practice.
Wish there was a way to extend the life of your favourite handpiece and spend less time on maintenance? It could be easier than you think, if you choose your maintenance supplies wisely.
Why Your Handpiece Lubricant Makes a Difference
As you know, cleaning and lubrication are the cornerstones of basic handpiece maintenance.
Handpieces must be cleaned after each use (even between sterilizations) to avoid cross-contamination, and daily lubrication is necessary to keep the turbine, air motor, shank and head in good working order.
It is important to follow cleaning with lubrication, as the abrasives found in handpiece cleaners can get into the mechanisms of the handpiece.
Today, many clinics use automatic handpiece maintenance systems to lubricate multiple handpieces simultaneously. However, lubricating a handpiece manually is relatively simple:
Disassemble the handpiece and remove the burr so you can reach its internal components.
Inject lubricant into the air drive port so that it reaches the turbine.
Lubricate both ends of the contra-angle, or remove the cylinder from the prophy angle and lubricate both ends.
Re-assemble the handpiece and operate, head down, for 10-30 seconds (depending on the manufacturer's instructions) without a burr to purge excess lubricant. Wipe any excess lubricant remaining on the handpiece using a dry gauze pad or paper towel.
10 Tips to Extend the Life of Any Dental Handpiece
Proper lubrication is essential to getting the most life and the best possible performance from any dental handpiece.
Here are a few pointers on choosing a handpiece lubricant that can help you minimize downtime, reduce the frequency of repairs and avoid unnecessary costs while extending your tool’s lifespan.
Lubricate the Handpiece Chuck Separately
The handpiece chuck generally requires separate care and a direct dose of lubricant.
Lubricate Before Sterilization, Not After
A high-quality handpiece lubricant like Sable EZ Lube will not break down in autoclaving temperature or otherwise be affected by the sterilization process. Lubrication prior to autoclaving has also been shown to increase the longevity of air-turbine handpiece bearings.
Avoid Overlubricating Low-Speed Handpieces
Applying too much lubricant to a low-speed motor can saturate it and cause it to become sluggish.
Use a Product That Cleans And Lubricants At Once
This saves you valuable time when it comes to preparing your handpiece for sterilization. We’ve developed Sable EZ Lube to remove dirt and stains from handpiece surfaces while it lubricates.
Don’t Lubricate ‘Lube-Free’ Turbine Bearings
Certain Kavo and Star Dental handpiece turbines are not designed for direct lubrication.
Use a Food-Grade Handpiece Lubricant
We know that a handpiece can discharge lubricant in the direction of the bur for some 40 minutes after lubrication. Using a food-grade synthetic lubricant will ensure that this will not affect your patients.
Never Use Any Non-Dental Lubricant For Your Handpiece
Safety comes first! Non-dental lubricants may not be safe for your patients or good for your handpiece. Sable EZ Lube was developed in conjunction with Aerospace Lubricants Inc. specifically for dental handpieces.
Always Follow the Handpiece Manufacturer’s Instructions Maintenance standards can vary between different manufacturers, and in different models from the same manufacturer.
Use The Adapter That Corresponds Your Coupling System This will ensure that you deliver the right amount of lubricant to the deepest recesses of your handpiece. Our Sable EZ Lube comes in 500ml aerosol cans with nozzles available for most handpieces, including contras, straights, heads and low-speed motors.
Don’t Skimp on the Lubricant! Your handpiece can’t function properly without proper lubrication! If cost is a concern, there are affordable handpiece lubricants on the market. Sable EZ Lube is affordably priced, with cost savings of 20-30% over other top lubricant brands.
Have any questions about our handpiece lubricants? Get in touch with us and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!
One of the top fears in the world is the fear of needles. About 10% of the general population suffers from such fears. This can make going to the dentist something to be feared because typical anesthetics are administered using needles.
A needleless anesthesia, called Kovanaze, might be a beneficial practice to ease the anxiety of needles and save patients from injections overall.
The History of Needleless Anesthesia
Since the 1940s, the use of Tetracaine (also known as amethocaine) has been used for eyes, nose and throat treatments. It is a local anesthetic, typically applied in liquid form to the desired area. It wasn’t until patients began to inform doctors that when used for nasal treatments, that their upper lip was also numb. This led researchers to look into the compound for dental applications.
About a decade ago, a pharmaceutical company called St. Renatus developed Kovanaze which was a combination of 3% Tetracaine and 0.05% Oxymetazoline. On June 29th, 2016 it was approved for dental use by the Food and Drug Administration. It is the first approved nasal anesthia.
What is Kovanaze Anesthesia and How is it Used?
Tetracaine is a very temporary anesthetic, approximately lasting only 15 minutes. This makes it quite difficult to work on a patient in such a tight time limit, especially for intricate dental procedures. With the addition of Oxymetazoline, the duration was increased because it slows the systemic absorption of tetracaine.
Using it is extremely simple. Spray into the nostril that corresponds with the side in which the patient is having work on followed by another spray 4-5 minutes later. It is important to wait 10 minutes to ensure the effects are working, if not another spray may be administered for adults only.
The nasal spray treats the upper anterior teeth, specifically teeth 4-13 (See image). Initial tests resulted in an 84% success rate for teeth 4-13 and 96% effective for teeth 5-12. The premolars seem to have less success in having a consistent and reliable result using Kovanaze.
Additional testing has been conducted since with fantastic results. Out of 186 subjects, only two had any pressor response. This was likely caused by the Oxymetazoline component. A history of Hashimoto’s thyrotoxicosis, a relative contraindication to oxymetazoline, was found in one of the pressor response patients.
Kovanaze is unique because it does not anesthetize the lips. Dentists performing anterior restorations could find this to be invaluable. Precision is greatly improved for the placement of veneers and crowns. Additionally, due to the ability to move the lip in a natural way, patients are able to have more aesthetically pleasing results.
Drawbacks of Kovanaze Needleless Anesthesia
As with any medical procedure, there are of course risks associated with it.
Approximately 10% of patients have identified the following possible temporary side effects:
Like all other local anesthetics, there are limitations to who may be administered it. Children under 88 lbs, patients with uncontrolled hypertension, thyroid disease or taking MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) should not be given it.
Due to the fact that this is a very localized anesthetics, it is limited to only the maxillary and premolar anterior. For any of restorative work outside this region would require an injection to complete.
Kovanaze is limited for hygiene procedures such as scaling and root planing because of unpredictable gingival conditions. Further testing will be conducted to determine if it will be able to produce the desired result.
This exciting new development allows for people to now have the choice to have an injection or not. Many people would jump at the chance to avoid it.
It is not only good for patients but also practitioners because it can put patients at ease and lowers the fear of the dentist office.
As this company continues to develop and improve this product, it’s our hope that new insights will be found that furthers the use for Kovanaze. Many people would prefer this option over an injection so if it can be used for more than just the maxillary and premolars of the anterior, it should be!
Scaling used to be a dental hygienist’s daily grind. But owing to advancements in ultrasonic scaling, the process has become increasingly efficient and effective. Not only is ultrasonic scaling more convenient to the hygienist than scaling with hand instruments, it has numerous benefits to patients’ oral hygiene as well.
Once activated, the tip of an ultrasonic scaler oscillates at incredible speeds up to 35,000 cycles per second. The hygienist guides the tip from the coronal to the apical of a tooth, pulverizing calculus so it can be washed away by a coolant spray.
Ultrasonic scalers remove plaque through a dual application of mechanical force and cavitation. The vibration of the tip creates pressure waves in the water dispersed as coolant, causing the formation and implosion of atomized gas bubbles. These shockwaves help to disrupt bacterial biofilm and fracture the calculus deposits as they are pounded by mechanical force.
The oscillating tip of an ultrasonic scaler is replaceable, with tips of various shapes and diameter available for different purposes. Thicker tips are generally suitable for use with higher power settings to remove heavier calculus deposits, whereas thin tips are used for light calculus or biofilm removal. In any case, hygienists should read the manufacturer’s directions as to a tip’s proper usage.
Benefits to Ultrasonic Scaling
Ultrasonic scaling is highly effective in removing subgingival/supragingival calculus from teeth without damaging roots or gum tissue. Other benefits to ultrasonic scaling include:
Using an ultrasonic scaler, hygienists can remove calculus from pockets between teeth and gums at probing depths that are unreachable with hand tools (4mm or greater.)
Ultrasonic scalers have replaceable, specially-designed tips that can penetrate difficult nooks and corners.
Since there are no sharp cutting edges and no ‘scraping’ sound, many patients find ultrasonic scaling is more comfortable than scaling with hand dental instruments.
A piezoelectric ultrasonic scaler uses transducers to convert electricity into mechanical energy using materials like quartz crystals. The device sends electrical energy to ‘activate’ the material within the handpiece and vibrate the instrument tip at 28,000 to 35,000 cycles per second. The tip vibrates in a back-and-forth motion and only the lateral sides are active.
Magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers like the Autoscaler generate vibratory motion by transferring electrical energy to metal components in the handpiece. The tip operates in an elliptical motion at 25,000 to 30,000 cycles per second. Unlike piezoelectric scalers, all sides of the tip (lateral, face and back) are active in a magnetostrictive device.
Almost everyone concerned about the health of their teeth brushes regularly, but they may not know exactly why toothpaste performs the cleansing magic it does. They may not even know they also receive fluoride every day in their community’s drinking water.
There are various cleaning components in toothpaste and one of the primary ones is fluoride. The discovery of fluoride's cleaning abilities was a boon in preserving dental health. Toothpaste and tap water then became convenient fluoride delivery systems to aid in the fight against tooth decay.
A Natural Cavity Fighter
The discovery of fluoride’s ability to keep our teeth healthy dates back to the early 20th century. A pair of dentists in Colorado discovered that people in the area had teeth unusually resistant to decay. This was due to the high degree of natural fluoride deposits in the area, which had found their way into the local drinking water. Fluoride became a regular part of toothpaste beginning in 1914.
In the 1940s, a multi-year study began with the goal of determining whether adding fluoride to drinking water made a notable difference for dental health. The results showed a 60-65% decrease in tooth decay in children born after the experiment began. As a result, a number of states in America began water fluoridation programs to improve their citizens’ oral health.
How Flouride Works
The enamel of your teeth is the natural coating that helps to protect them. When children’s teeth are first forming, fluoride combines with the enamel to help stave off decay during a time of life when teeth are particularly vulnerable to cavities. Fluoride remains valuable throughout the life of your teeth by helping protect them against the ravages of sugar and plaque.
Rare Health Risks
As mentioned, almost everyone’s teeth come into regular contact with fluoride through exposure to drinking water and toothpaste. There are additional fluoride supplements in the form of drops or tablets, and it is also an ingredient in mouthwash. The degree of fluoride in the latter is quite high, so do not swallow it.
High doses of fluoride in water can be bad for you, but this would require ingesting a volume of water with fluoride going well beyond what the normal person drinks.
Excessive fluoride can cause conditions known as dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis. You can only come down with dental fluorosis as a child, as ingesting too much fluoride at a young age can lead to white spots appearing on your permanent teeth. Fortunately, degrees of this condition ranking above very mild are almost non-existent.
You can also acquire skeletal fluorosis by taking in too much fluoride. However, you would have to have a very high amount on a daily basis for a very long period. As with dental fluorosis, the odds of contracting this problem are extremely rare.
Government oversight helps to ensure the level of fluoride in drinking water does not exceed safe rates. In Ontario, municipalities follow the guidelines laid out in the Safe Drinking Water Act managed by the Ministry of the Environment.
Everyone knows dental hygienists clean teeth. But did you know they also examine patients for signs of disease, provide preventative treatment, and educate people on good oral health? Here’s a sneak peek at some of the amazing things you’ll learn in dental school.
Dental hygienists do more than just clean teeth. They examine teeth and gums, chart cavities, place brackets and bands, install arch wires, and take a hands-on role in all kinds of dental procedures. These practical skills are the core of any dental hygienist program.
Once you have learned the fundamentals, you’ll begin to apply what you have learned in a mock clinical setting until you’re ready to assist with real patients.
Tools of the Trade
What's the difference between electric and air-driven handpieces? You’ll know soon. Dental hygienists use a wide range of dental equipment and tools, from simple picks and dental mirrors to high-tech equipment like X-ray machines.
Dental school will teach you to pick the best dental tools for the job.
Treating Different Patients
No two patients are exactly alike. Different people have different needs when it comes to dental care. In dental school, you’ll learn to provide top-notch treatment to people of all ages and backgrounds. Some schools offer courses focusing on the unique needs of people who are elderly, disabled, or have other barriers to receiving dental treatment.
Dental hygienists not only learn the ins and outs of oral anatomy, they also acquire in-depth knowledge of the human body in general. They study various aspects of human biology, right down to the microscopic make-up of tissues and the mechanisms of disease.
Community Health and Advocacy
As members of the dental profession, dental hygienists have a platform to advocate on dental health issues in the community. Many dental schools have a course on public health and advocacy, where you learn how to improve access to dental care and spread the word using marketing and mass media.
Diet plays a huge role in oral health. To help your patients maintain healthy teeth and gums, you must know the science of nutrition. Dental hygienists learn the function of basic nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in the body, along with the impact of nutrition and nutritional deficiencies on oral health. By the time you’re finished dental school, you’ll know more about healthy eating than a dedicated health nut!
Do you have good people skills? If so, you’ll have a leg-up in the dental profession. If not, dental school will help you catch up! Dental hygienists often spend more time speaking with patients than dentists do, and they teach patients to maintain and develop good dental habits. With good communication skills, you can help make the dental office experience more comfortable and beneficial to patients.
Dental school is no walk in the park. Mastering the practical skills takes a great deal of physical strength, endurance, and manual dexterity. Your science courses will demand hours of reading and dedicated studying, testing your ability to analyze problems and think critically. However, at the end of this long road lies a career full of potential! Going through the rigors of dental school will help you discover whether the dental profession is right for you, and if so, what role you want to play within it.