Do's and Don'ts of Handpiece Maintenance

Use Quality Lubricants, and Use Them Properly:

If handpieces are not getting their fair share of lubricant, and some regular "T.L.C." they can degrade quickly. Make certain your tools are properly lubricated. A couple of drops in the right places on a low-speed, or a shot of spray in a high-speed before every sterilization, will prevent downtime which is costly to your business. The best lubricant doesn't always come with a handpiece brand name attached, or with a price-tag to match the handpieces they sell.

Sterilize Your Handpieces:

Sterilization of handpieces is the most necessary part of your anti-contamination procedure: also the hardest on the handpieces. Make certain that maximum reached temperatures in your autoclaves never spike higher than 140 degrees. There are ways to lessen the effects of sterilizing your dental handpieces, and speed the process. Your handpieces will need work, sooner or later. The question is: "How long do they stay operating well, before needing repairs?"

Tips To Remember:

  • Don't run a Manual-Chuck handpiece without a bur in place and tightened, to lock the chuck. The lock-nut may run out extremely fast, and then tear up the cap. Not to mention that your turbine may be ruined. Push-button chucks can be run without burs during the short period of a maintenance procedure, with fresh lubricant in them. It also ensures a quicker and more thorough purge of debris-laiden lubricant.
  • Don't lube a hot handpiece. The question of whether to lube or not after sterilization has been bandied about for years. With a good lubricant, designed to act as a cleaner as well, it is safe to lube thoroughly prior to sterilization following proper procedures, Purge it fully, sterilize it properly: and it is now finished and ready to use.
  • You can't over lubricate a highspeed motor: you Can over-lube lowspeed motors. Over-oiling a low-speed can saturate it, causing sluggish action, and force high-pressure startups (with commensurate splashes up the wall from the prophy cup). Keep it lubed, not bathed. If it gets much over 5 lbs startup pressure required (and 2-4 psi is a nice good start-up range), keep an eye on it. Over-lubricating a highspeed, on the other hand: simply cleans it better, and requires a little longer to purge it. Highspeeds love lubricant.
  • After lubricating each handpiece, be sure to run (manual chuck hp's: with the bur placed and locked in it) the handpiece up and purge it: before you sterilize it: but be sure to remove any and all burs before placing the handpiece in the sterilizer.
  • Your handpieces like DRY air and decent lubricant. Your compressor generally provides condensation, and if allowed, a shot of nice thick compressor oil. Therefore, keep your filters clean. All three of them: particulate, water, and oil: should be replaced regularly.
  • Don't lube "Lube-free" type turbines bearings.
  • Proper air-pressure regulation is the and most critical aspect of proper handpiece operation. Get a proper handpiece input-air pressure test gauge, and a manufacturers' recommended PSI Chart.
  • Make certain that the dry-cycle for steam-claves completes to prevent rust in your tools/turbines.
  • Users of MDT Chemiclaves: be sure the handpieces are dry before sterilization.
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