Dental Handpiece or Dental Drill is a mechanical device which by dentists to remove decay, alter prostheses, polish fillings, etc. It’s a hand-held device and from there the name Handpiece comes from.

Dental Handpieces have a small electric motor also called micromotor which provides rotating power to the connected shaft which can further be used for various dental operations like cutting.

There are various pieces of evidence that bow drills were used for various dentistry practices as far back as 7000 BC. A British dentist named George Fellows Harrington invented the very first mechanical drill (named Erado) back in 1864, but it was very noisy.

In 1875, an American dentist named George F. Green developed the first electrical dental handpiece which revolutionized the whole dentistry industry. Later, during the 1950s and 1960s, a whole new type of drill was

What is a Dental Handpiece/Drill?

Dental Handpiece is a small hand-held rotating device used for various dental operations like decay removal, fillings polishing, shaping root canals, teeth cleaning, etc. Dentists use the device to drill certain areas of teeth.

Dental Burrs

Different kinds of dental burrs are attached to the rotating shaft of the handpiece as per the requirements. Generally, dental burrs are made up of tungsten carbide or sometimes of the diamond.

Types of Dental Handpiece

Of course, there are a lot of types of handpiece in use out there.

On the basis of rotating speed, these are of 2 types:

  1. High-Speed Dental Handpiece
  2. Low-Speed Dental Handpiece

The high-speed ones can have a rotation up to 400,000 rpm and the low-speed ones can have a rotation up to 80,000 rpm.

On the basis of design, these are of 2 types:

  1. Air-driven Handpieces
  2. Electric Handpiece

Since the air turbines are way faster than that of the electric motor, air-driven handpieces mostly come under the high-speed category. And, most of the electric handpieces are of low-speed.

Air-driven handpieces are run by an air-driven turbine and are a bit noisy; whereas electric handpieces are quieter and are powered by small electric motors called micromotors.

Main Parts of a Dental Handpiece

A modern handpiece is a very sophisticated piece of tech which contains multiple small components within the casing.

Dental Handpiece

Some of the main and important parts of a dental drill are:

1. Rotor

A rotor is the main rotating part which connects the outer shaft to which various dental burrs can get attached.

2. Bearing

A single handpiece contains multiple bearings. These help to reduce the friction prevent shafts from touching the walls of the casing and let them rotate without any interruptions.

Generally, two types of bearings are used – one, angular contact ball bearing, and two, deep groove ball bearing.

3. LED and Xenon Bulbs

Many modern handpieces come with a light-source attached at the top of it in order to see the inside-mouth view properly.

4. Dental Hose

The dental hose is tubing that gets connected to the dental unit for water spray, air, and electricity in order to power the LED or Xenon bulbs.

5. Back Cap

The back cap is a component that seals the back of the dental drill. It’s a pretty small looking component and found in the air-driven drills.

6. Carbon Brush

The carbon brush is a small part that transmits an electrical current to a rotating part from a static part. The micromotors inside the electrical handpieces have these carbon brushes. But, most of the new-gen micromotors are completely brushless.

7. Keys & Wrenches

The handpiece doesn’t contain these keys and wrenches by default. These are some tools to repair the device.

8. Other Dental Handpiece Repair Tools

As design-wise drills are very sophisticated, chances of the device malfunctioning get high too. All the dental handpieces manufacturing companies have different kinds of repair tools as per the design of handpieces.

9. Chuck

Chucks are the component which holds the dental burrs for grinding and drilling purpose.

Companies Manufacturing Dental Handpieces and their Parts

Although there are a lot of companies in the dental drill manufacturing business after the mid-19th century.

But some of the reputed and famous manufacturing companies are:

  • KaVo
  • NSK
  • Sirona
  • W&H
  • Bien Air
  • Castellini
  • Fona
  • Midwest
  • MK-Dent
  • Siemens
  • BA International
  • Star
  • Faro
  • Anthos

These are some of the top ones which are well-known for their quality and design.

How to Clean a Dental Handpiece

No doubts that the modern dental equipments are pricey and if not taken care of properly, their repairs are not cheap either. However, with time upon regular use, these will need repairs.

To make sure that the drills keep working properly, regular cleaning and maintenance become necessary. Not only has that, but regular cleaning also reduced the chances of various unexpected hazards.

Followings are some tips that are useful for the maintenance of a dental handpiece:

  • Wipe down after every single-use
  • Clean under the running water if doesn’t look clean
  • Lubricate the moving parts regularly
  • Remove the burr after each use
  • Do not start without the burr
  • Sterilize the handpiece regularly
  • Clean & remove any kinds of bio-burden buildup
  • Always test on a paper towel before taking into the mouth

Conclusion

The technological advancements in the field of dental handpieces are not at the point of saturation yet. By each coming year, some great features and functionality are being added to the device.

As dental drills are costly and pretty sophisticated in design, proper care and maintenance are essential to save money as well as to avoid any mishaps while operating.