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Maintenance Matters: How Proper Lubrication Makes Your Dental Handpiece Last Longer

Let's talk dental handpiece lubricants! 


Just like your car needs an oil change, your dental handpiece needs a little TLC in order to stay on top of its game. A drop of the right lubricant here and there, and you can say goodbye to excessive noise and vibration and hello to a longer lifespan for your handpiece. 

So don't be stingy with the lubricant—give your handpiece the attention it deserves and save yourself from costly repairs and replacements!


Why Lubrication is Key to a Happy Handpiece


Lubricants serve to reduce friction and wear on the various moving parts within your high or slow speed dental handpiece, such as the bearings, gears, and air turbine. This keeps your handpiece running smoothly and efficiently.  


Lubricating your handpiece also helps to repel dirt and debris, as well as inhibit corrosion, so your handpiece suffers less wear and tear.  


Some of the main components that need lubrication include:

  1. Bearings: Bearings support the rotating shaft within your handpiece. Since bearings are under constant pressure, they must be lubricated regularly to reduce friction and wear.  
  2. Gears: Gears transmit power from the air turbine to the chuck that holds the bur. Like the bearings, gears are constantly under pressure and must be lubricated to prevent them from seizing.  
  3. Air turbine: The air turbine converts compressed air into mechanical energy. The component must also be lubricated to prevent friction and wear. 
  4. O-rings: Rubber O-rings seal the various components to keep out dirt, debris, and moisture. Lubricant helps to extend the lifespan and improve the seal of O-rings.

The cost of handpiece repairs and replacements add up quickly, so investing in preventative maintenance, including regular lubrication, pays off in the long run! 
Remember: each dental handpiece is unique and may have different lubrication specifications from the manufacturer. Always refer to the manufacturer's instructions to ensure that your dental handpiece is lubricated properly.


Signs Your Dental Handpiece Needs Lubrication


The following are some of the most common signs that a dental handpiece needs to be lubricated:

  1. Decreased power: Often a result of increased friction between moving parts, which is a sign that lubrication is needed. 
  2. Increased noise: A high-quality dental handpiece that is properly lubricated should be relatively quiet. More noise could indicate that the bearings, gears, or air turbine need to be lubricated. 
  3. Excess vibration: More vibration than usual often points to increased friction between the handpiece’s bearings or gears, which can be quickly resolved by adding more lubricant. 
  4. Heat: Handpiece lubricant helps reduce frictional heat generated by your handpieces' moving parts. When your handpiece runs hot, it may require lubrication. 
  5. Decreased air flow: decreased air flow or pressure in an air-driven handpiece indicates that its turbine needs lubrication.

Keep an eye out for these signs and lubricate the dental handpiece as soon as they appear. Doing this regularly not only keeps your handpiece operating smoothly and efficiently, but also prolongs its life to save you money!


How to Apply Dental Handpiece Lubricant to Your Handpiece


A few basic tools and the right lubricant are all it takes to properly lubricate a dental handpiece. You can lubricate your dental handpiece by following these steps:


  1. Gather a small brush, a clean cloth, and the lubricant. Be sure to choose a lubricant designed specifically for dental handpieces
  2. Clean the handpiece using the brush and clean cloth. Lubricant will work better if applied to a clean surface. 
  3. Apply lubricant to the air turbine using the correct lube nozzle attached to aerosol lubricant can. 
  4. Run the handpiece to expel any excess lubricant from the turbine and ensure it is running smoothly.

You should lubricate your handpiece before sterilization, not after. A high-quality handpiece lubricant like Sable EZ Lube won't degrade or break down in an autoclave. Lubrication prior to autoclaving has also been shown to increase the longevity of air-turbine handpiece bearings. 


For specific lubrication and maintenance recommendations, please refer to each dental handpiece's instruction manual.


How Using the Right Lubricant Can Make Your Dental Handpiece Last Longer


Cleaning and lubrication are two of the foundations of handpiece maintenance. 


Handpieces should be cleaned after each use (even between sterilizations) in order to prevent cross-contamination. However, since handpiece cleaners often contain abrasives that can get into the mechanism of the handpiece, it is important to follow cleaning with lubrication. 


Using high-quality lubricants specifically designed for dental handpieces has several advantages. Some of the key benefits include:

  1. Increased performance: High-quality lubricants are specifically formulated to reduce friction and wear on the moving parts, resulting in increased power and performance of the handpiece. 
  2. Longer lifespan: High-quality lubricants are formulated to protect the moving parts of the handpiece when exposed to high temperatures, pressure, and debris that cause wear and tear, helping to prolong its lifespan. 
  3. Improved efficiency: High-quality lubricants are specifically formulated to provide maximum lubrication to the moving parts, which helps to improve the efficiency of the handpiece. 
  4. Protection against corrosion: High-quality lubricants also provide protection against corrosion and rust, which can help prolong the life of the handpiece and keep it functioning efficiently. 
  5. Easier to apply and maintain: High-quality lubricants are also designed to be easy to apply and maintain. Sable EZ Lube comes in dropper, spray, and automatic handpiece lubricator refill form to meet the requirements of different types of equipment.

It is imperative that you only use lubricants specifically designed for use with dental handpieces. Products meant for other products, such as automobiles or industrial machinery, may not contain the additives and properties necessary for dental handpieces, and may contain harmful chemicals, abrasives, or other unwanted ingredients. 


How Proper Lubrication Makes Your Dental Handpiece Last Longer


When dental handpieces are not properly lubricated, they perform poorly, generate more noise, and ultimately need to be repaired or replaced sooner than they should.  


To prolong the life of your dental handpiece, be sure to follow manufacturer's recommendations regarding lubrication and lubricate it regularly using a quality dental handpiece lubricant. 


We hope that this article was a helpful refresher on dental handpiece lubrication and how to do it properly. If you have any further questions or concerns about Sable EZ Lube, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you get the most out of your handpiece!

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