Electric Handpiece

Everything There Is to Know About Electric Handpieces

Electric handpieces are one of the main parts of the dental drills. It is useful mostly in making cavities with unique headers on parts of the damaged teeth that have to be replaced by a dental filling. They are much more comfortable to use and more effective than traditional air-driven tools. For this reason, they are slowly but inevitably replacing air-driven handpieces in the USA and European markets. They are also called speed-increasing among professional medical practitioners. 

These parts of the drilling machines may be used in various ways: for mealing, cutting, or any other purpose that medical practitioners may need. They usually develop a very high rotating speed with the exact mechanism of the interaction with oral cavity tissues dictated by the headers on top of the handpiece.

Retrospective of an electric handpiece

The first known dental handpiece came from the Indus Valley civilizations. They looked like small bows, driven by a hand movement of the ancient medical practitioners. The early findings of those devices dated about 7 000 years B. C. It seems like the old dentists moved a rope of the bow with an ancient flint drill fixed to it.

Approximately in the late 18th century, mechanical drills showed up. Manually operated tools could develop a speed of 15 revolutions per minute. Those instruments were extremely painful for patients but allowed dentists to expand the number of proposed treatment activities significantly. For example, they can more effectively extract the rotten pieces of tooth. Still, as there is no practical way to implant a high-quality filling in those damaged parts, this invention did not find high popularity among doctors.

George Fellows Harrington, the British dentist, and inventor invented "the Erado" clockwork dental drill in 1864. Then George F. Green showed up with his first pneumatic dental drill with a handpiece in 1868. He was also an inventor of the first fully electric drill, which came up in 1875. After that, there were a few significant improvements in the engineering part of the mechanism. By 1914, those tools developed to speed up to 3 000 revolutions per minute.

Indications to use an electric handpiece

This tool is a significant part of the drilling machines. It is crucial for many different dental treatments and diagnostic procedures, and indication for their use is vast. For example, they are incredibly beneficial for various types of dental surgery operations. Among the other procedures are:

  • Filling polishing
  • Various cosmetic procedures
  • Removing decay
  • Altering prostheses

Nowadays, the overall speed of rotating high-speed devices is not less than 180 000 revolutions per minute. It is essential for every modern mechanism of that type to have some cooling mechanism in its composition, usually water or air cooling. The standard cooling device has about five small holes and delivers up to 50 ml of water per minute.

Difference between an air turbine and an electric handpiece

According to a vast number of studies, these two devices show almost identical effectivity while drilling glass and ceramics materials. But, there is also much information about the significant benefits of using electric handpieces during work with tooth tissues, amalgam, prostheses, and filling materials.

So, generally, the main difference between these two kinds of apparatuses is in the type of drive. Air turbines usually perform at a significantly slower rate of revolutions per minute, resulting in more painful and prolonged procedures. But, from another perspective, air turbines have a longer overall lifetime compared to the electric ones. In any case, as we already said above, electronic instruments have slowly replaced the air driven among USA dental practitioners.

Complications of an electric handpiece

The leading group of complications of using electric handpieces has a connection with an extremely high rate of revolutions per minute, which apparatuses develop in the working process and carelessness of medical practitioners. As an example, lots of various mechanical traumas and injuries of soft and hard oral tissues may occur if the hand of a dentist moves in the wrong way. That is the main reason why any dentistry worker should first put and press down the head of a drill machine to the surface of a tooth, and only then proceed to the procedure itself.

The second big group of complications that can potentially occur while using these instruments is from bacterial contamination of the surface of those instruments from performing different diagnostic and treatment procedures inside the patient oral cavity. For example, bacterial strains, sometimes even pathogenic, from an oral cavity of one patient, may transfer to another patient's oral cavity. They might cause various infectious diseases following poor handling of the instruments.

The third group of complications that may occur during usage of an electric handpiece, in general, is connected with the malfunction of those devices as it is. For example, when the handpieces do not work as they should, the general painfulness and overall time of procedures are prolonged. That is why every medical practitioner should check every instrument's efficiency before performing any treatment or examination.

General Specifications of an electric handpiece

There are lots of different devices of that kind available nowadays on the market. Many of them vary a lot and have different additional functions and features. So, picking up general specifications for those tools was pretty hard to perform in the right way. We picked up ten most popular models of these supplies. We analyzed the most frequently repeated specifications, taking the arithmetic mean. Here is what we got:

  • Maximum rotations per minute - up to 450 000 rpm;
  • Shaft - from fixated 1,5 mm up to screwed shaft with Ø up to 10mm.
  • Light - no light, a light guide, or an intraoral camera, or a scanner;
  • Application - prophylaxis, preparation, endodontics, stripping, finishing, root planing, in various combinations
  • Chuck type - pushbutton, RA-shafted;
  • Transmission ratio - 10:1, 1:5, 1:1, 4:1
  • Weight - up to 75 grams
  • Length - up to 94 mm
  • Instrument spray - no spray, one-hole spray, three-hole spray, five-hole spray
  • Head Ø x height - Ø: 7,8 - 9,5 x H: 8 - 14 mm

You can also check up the general specifications without mentioning any average numbers at the document, called ISO 14467. You can also find additional information about dental drill motors and other types of handpieces, including all the proper information about the components, matching materials, and others.

Market Leaders

Among the market leaders for that type of product, there are many different European and USA manufacturers. They are mostly expensive (the overall price of the high-quality electric handpiece is about $1,500) and have a significantly prolonged lifetime. Among our list of the most popular sellers are:

  • NSK
  • MASTER-DENT
  • Nouvag
  • Morita
  • Zubler
  • Kirwan Surgical Products
  • BA International
  • OsteoMed
  • Micro-NX Co., Ltd.
  • K5 PLUS
  • Gnatus

As many new companies show up on the market every day, this list probably would not be relevant for a long time. However, the first five positions from this list will not lose their actuality during the five next years.

Conclusion

Electric handpieces are essential instruments that nowadays have great use during different types of dental treatment processes. They are the vital parts of the drill machines, which are the crucial instrument for any dental practitioner. There are limitless models with numerous features available on the market nowadays.

They began to find their application during a few different surgical operations on the human bones, mostly performed in dental surgery. Probably, there are many various other application methods still left unrevealed to doctors and waiting for its pioneers. Well, we will know about that in the near future.

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