Extend the life of your handpiece: maintenance & sterilization tips

What is the best way to maintain a handpiece? It''''s one of the most common questions we hear from dental assistants across the country. It''''s an issue we love to discuss because after 16 years of specializing in handpiece repair, we have definitely learned the importance of proper maintenance. The cleaning and maintenance process can be confusing, but when done properly, regular maintenance can extend the life of your handpieces and ultimately save your practice a lot of money.




Before I explain handpiece maintenance, it is important to understand the operation of a high-speed handpiece. When a highspeed handpiece is running, it exhausts air from the top and bottom of the head. When the user lifts off the rheostat, the physics of the handpiece are reversed. When the handpiece shuts down, the turbine aspirates debris including tooth dust, amalgam and other fine particles into the head of the handpiece. You can imagine how dirty a handpiece turbine can get if the debris is not flushed out of the head prior to autoclaving. Unless it is removed, the debris will continue to bake around the turbine resulting in premature failure.

Infection Control

High-speed handpieces need to be cleaned and lubricated between each patient. Begin by cleaning the outer shell of the handpiece using soap and water or alcohol and 2x2s. Never use a disinfectant, because any residue not removed can compromise the function of a turbine autochuck and bearings.

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