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10 Signs it’s time to service your handpiece

Posted: 20th Feb 2019
  1. Loose Bur– If the push button mechanism or latch grip mechanism (in some contra-angle) fails to grip the bur, your handpiece needs urgent repair and should be taken out of circulation immediately. In a turbine, this could be a sign of cartridge failure or in the case of a contra-angle, would point to failure of latch grip mechanism.
  2. Abnormal vibrations– Is your handpiece vibrating more than usual? This will cause discomfort to the patient and strain on your wrist muscles attempting to compensate the vibration. This is an indication that the bearings are failing and the handpiece needs inspecting by a specialist handpiece repair technician.
  3. Disturbed Rhythm– The handpiece should produce a consistent sound at full speed. Any disturbances or fluctuations in the sound indicate excessive wear or breakage within the handpiece. Whilst the handpiece may continue working you need to consider the safety of the patient or further damage to the handpiece. Urgent attention is required.
  4. Reduced torque– Does the bur stop easily when in use? Obviously a bur that’s not turning, will not cut! There are a number of causes but in a high speed turbine this could be bearings or turbine. In a motor driven contra-angle, this is likely to point to motor fault as power is generated by the motor.
  5. Reduced Speed– If the speed significantly reduces in use the bur will not cut with optimum efficiency. Remember, most high speed turbines will spin at 250000 to 400000 revolutions per minute which requires the bearings to be in excellent condition.
  6. Interrupted Water Flow– Water is essential to assist cutting and to cool the bur. If this becomes interrupted or even stops, the patient safety is compromised and the handpiece can be damaged if not attended to. Obviously, it is wisdom to check that water is coming through the hose to the point of the handpiece connection, either the coupling or hose connection (if direct connection handpiece).
  7. Bur Stuck– If a bur becomes stuck in the handpiece chuck, do not attempt to remove yourself! This requires the attention of a handpiece repair technicians who use specialist tools to remove the bur. Often this is caused by the use of ‘low cost’ burs that have the wrong shank diameter. The other cause of stuck burs is the use of damaged burs. If you are aware of a bur that may have been damaged, discard immediately. Damage to a bur may not be visible to the naked eye but if there is any difficulty inserting the bur into the chuck, do not force.
  8. Corrosion Evidence– Any external signs of corrosion should be addressed immediately. This points to poor maintenance or storage procedures and we recommend you get the handpiece inspected as soon as possible. Addressing this early can avoid costly repairs long term. Most manufacturers and good handpiece repair companies will advise you on this or even offer free staff training.
  9. Heat- Most speed-increasing contra-angle handpieces will become warm during use as they are motor driven handpieces with driveshaft and gears. Any increased heat will point towards failure of some of the internal parts but this will normally be accompanied with increased noise and vibrations.
  10. Light failure– Some handpieces transmit the light source via a fibre-optic rod from the coupling or motor to the bur end. If the fibre optic rod becomes damaged or breaks, this will impair the light quality. Other handpieces contain a bulb in the handpiece operated by electrical connections on the coupling whilst others may have an internal dynamo driven light. Contact the manufacturer or your handpiece repair technician for specific advice.

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