You could purchase the most expensive, high-performing dental handpiece on the market, but that value disappears when you don’t maintain this essential tool of the trade.
In general, this holds true for your entire dental practice. It doesn’t matter the size or quality of your practice – it'll suffer if it's not well maintained!
Properly cleaning and maintaining your handpieces will help to extend their lifespan, reduce the risk of infection, and keep your practice running smoothly. For the best care and maintenance of all your dental handpieces, follow these tips.
Handpieces are the most important (and often most expensive) tools in your dental practice. Know how to sterilize handpieces properly so that their lifespan can be extended and cross-infection can be prevented.
Several studies show that non-autoclaved high and low speed handpieces can cause cross-contamination.
One study in particular performed 160 tests with two handpiece types where the prophy angle experienced contamination. This resulted in the motor being contaminated 20% of the time.
Then, when the other motor was contaminated, 47% of the 160 samples saw microbes transmitted to the prophy angle.
Another study assessed 20 subjects where 3-quarters of the 420 samples gathered from low-speed handpiece systems were contaminated with oral flora.
The primary takeaway here is to never reuse a handpiece without autoclaving.
Following this advice keeps your practice clean and your patient’s/staff safe.
Ensure your handpiece is autoclavable. More specifically, it should have a smooth, sleek design that doesn’t retain debris or bacteria.
Know that a titanium finish can handle sterilization chemicals long-term, whereas a chrome plate won’t hold up over time.
Lastly, the finish on your handpiece should be seamless, without any gap between outer casings.
Follow these steps in order when sterilizing your handpiece:
Cleaning the surface:
Dry the handpiece:
Get rid of excess oil:
Ensure fibre-optic surfaces are clean:
It’s finally time to sterilize:
Drying your handpiece:
Maintenance and sterilization tend to overlap, but this section will highlight aspects of handpiece care that will help it last longer.
Considerations during cleaning and sterilization:
Considerations for lubrication:
With these tips, you’ll keep your practice clean and safe while maximizing the value of your handpiece by extending its overall performance and lifespan.
At first, it might take some adjusting to remember all these tips. But you’ll quickly find these are relatively small efforts that lead to massive improvements in the quality of dental care you provide!