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Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Slow Speed Dental Handpiece


By choosing the correct dental equipment for your practice, you’ll improve patient outcomes, enhance your reputation as a care provider, and bolster your bottom line. 


However, it’s not necessarily easy to find the correct equipment for your practice. Many factors are involved. No more is this evident than with the array of elements you must weigh when choosing a slow speed dental handpiece. 


First, you need to know the difference between slow speed and high speed handpieces.


Then, there are features like lighting, propulsion, service and maintenance to consider. 

Factors like budget and lifespan are also at play, making your buyer’s journey an even more complex process. 


To help, here is a guide on the most important factors to consider when choosing a new slow speed handpiece for your practice.


Recap: What’s the Difference Between High Speed and Slow Speed Handpieces?


Your practice doesn’t only need one type of handpiece. There are different handpieces with their own unique purposes. 


More specifically, you need both high speed and slow speed handpieces at your practice.

  • High speed dental handpieces are precision devices that efficiently remove tooth tissue with exceptional speed. High speed handpieces can be purchased in multiple sizes, shapes, and general construction, and run at speeds between 300,000 and 450,000 RPM. Features for high speed handpieces are plentiful and differ depending on the model. High speed handpieces are most often used when shaping crowns and fillings and for teeth polishing. 
  • Slow speed dental handpieces are also classified as precision tools by dental specialists and practitioners, but run at slower speeds of 5,000 to 40,000 RPM. There’s no need for water circulation with these slower-speed models since they don’t operate fast enough to generate high heat. The primary purpose of slow speed handpieces is heavy jobs such as cavity removal, preparation for crown, veneer, and fillings, restorative work, and orthodontic procedures. 

Slow speed handpieces have a longer lifespan than their high speed counterparts, in large part because of the lesser operating speed. This results in minimized strain on the device’s mechanical components.


Slow Speed Handpiece Propulsion


There are two different types of propulsions you’ll be examining when searching for your slow speed dental handpiece: air-driven and electric propulsion. 


Air Driven Slow Speed Handpieces 


Air drive propulsion in handpieces is a decades-old technology that’s been researched thoroughly over the years. The air-driven propulsion technology is versatile, and practitioners love how straightforward this feature is to service and maintain.  


When air driven, handpieces usually benefit from increased cutting precision, resulting from more powerful torque. It’s also generally lighter in weight. 


If there’s one pitfall to be aware of with air-driven handpieces, it’s vulnerability to overheating. Additionally, the motor produces loud noises, which can be difficult for patients. 


Electric Slow Speed Handpieces 


Although slightly slower than their air-driven counterparts, electric motors offer steady torque, allowing them to withstand increased resistance. 


Due to this more consistent, fixed speed, there’s a faster and smooth cutting experience with electric propulsion. Moreover, the electric variation is far quieter than air-driven handpieces and doesn’t vibrate the teeth. Therefore, unsurprisingly, electric handpieces are preferred by patients. 


One pitfall of the electric model is that it's heavier than air driven handpieces, leading to fatigue and potential ergonomic issues. For an everyday slow speed handpiece, most practitioners prefer a steady, lighter air driven model.



You need proper lighting to perform any dental treatment, which should be a factor in determining your preferred slow speed handpiece. 


When your handpiece has a built-in light, it’s easier to use because of the improved vision. 


Nowadays, many handpieces are built with LED lighting, slowly but surely making the traditional halogen lights in dental equipment obsolete. LED lighting has a 10-times longer lifespan than its halogen counterparts, produces less heat, and offers a far more comfortable patient experience.



The types of procedures a handpiece can perform will be determined by its size. 

With smaller handpieces, you’ll enjoy superior visibility, lending themselves to intensive operative procedures. 


Also, the connection to a handpiece’s tip is unique, leading to potential compatibility issues. So, ensure that your existing tools fit your new handpiece before buying one. 


Service and Maintenance 


You’ll receive detailed maintenance and proper care instructions when you purchase your handpiece. Examine this manual thoroughly since each brand has different requirements and standards. 


After each time you use it, all handpiece parts should be sterilized. Thus, you’ll want a handpiece that isn’t hard to take apart between procedures. A quicker sterilization process will ensure not a minute is wasted between patients. 



Slow speed dental handpieces are known for their extended lifespan, but you shouldn’t rest on that singular laurel alone. You can still get even more out of your handpiece by doing your research and purchasing a product known for durability. 


Here are some factors you should consider when researching the lifespan of your potential new slow speed handpiece: 

  • How long is the warranty? 
  • What are the specifics of the warranty? What does it cover? 
  • How easily can you leverage the warranty when required? This is where customer service is key. 

Weighing Your Budget 


You could end up paying hundreds for your slow speed handpiece, or you could spend well over $1,000. 


Of course, you shouldn’t overpay. But you need to ask yourself, “what is overpaying?” Because dropping a little extra cash for equipment that allows you to do your job better is well worth it. 


Furthermore, many handpiece providers offer financing options. So, even if your current budget is limited, there’s the potential to not sacrifice quality in the name of tightening your financial belt. 


Last but not least, look for package deals and BOGO offers. Sable Industries offers quarterly promotions on all our slow speed handpieces that often include a buy three, get one free deal.


Start Your slow Speed Handpiece Buyer’s Journey


Before ending this article, we will point out the value of taking your potential new slow speed handpiece for a test run. Doing so will tell you if the handpiece is comfortable for your team members and conducive to quality dental work. 


Then, once you’ve followed all these crucial steps, you’re ready to embark on your slow speed handpiece buyer’s journey. 


Remember that your patients deserve the best possible treatments your budget can offer. And your dental equipment is an investment in their oral health as much as it’s an investment in your practice’s long-term success. 

at 11:56 AM
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