We all know (especially me, 7 years after starting TruTouch) that handpieces are extremely finicky. One second they are working as if they are brand new, the next second they are stalling, have no power, no water coming, or the bur goes flying. And trust me, after 7 years and 10,000 handpieces later, I know just how extremely finicky (and frustrating) they can be, especially when handpiece troubleshooting. One teeny-tiny thing can be off, and the whole thing runs like garbage.

Now, to be honest, some of the repairs are just simple cleanings, lubrications, or small adjustments; pretty much just preventative maintenance type repairs. There are a handful of repairs that can be diagnosed right in your office with proper handpiece troubleshooting. However, handpieces do break, there’s no way around it. I just want to help you troubleshoot to find out exactly what is wrong, and maybe even fix the problem without even having to send it in for repair.

How to Know if Your Handpiece Is Not Functioning the Way It Should

I am not going to lie, this kind of seems like a silly topic. I mean, how do you not know when your handpiece isn’t working right? The thing isn’t doing its dang job! Well, I just want to explain some tell-tell signs of problems beginning to arise so you can decide to send it in before it gets out of hand; and potentially causes more damage. Or if you should, rather, try some handpiece troubleshooting tips to see if you can get it back to working order. There are some things that can be taken care of as soon as they start to arise, that will greatly increase the odds that you can get it back to a working condition.

It may be hard to notice at times, but if your handpiece is starting to show signs of any of these symptoms, it’s time to give it some special attention:

  • Chuck mechanism is beginning to feel sticky
  • Burs are harder than usual to insert/remove
  • Handpiece bur is starting to wobble
  • Handpiece makes a terrible noise when going all-out
  • The Turbine is taking a long time to stop spinning
  • Water spray doesn’t seem consistent, or as strong
  • Water is leaking out of the handpiece
  • Sometime you have to give the bur a “flick” to get it to spin
  • Handpiece doesn’t feel like it is cutting as strong as it once was
  • The head is starting to get warm/hot
  • Burs are starting to move out of the chuck
  • Any other handpiece issue that isn’t listed above (If I listed them all I will never stop typing)

Below, we will outline what to do with the most common issues.

What to Do if Your Handpiece Is Not Spinning?

Alt-Text: Using Cleaner Aerosol Spray For High Speed Dental Handpiece

Out of all the problems above, a handpiece not spinning is atop the list of most common problems and is one of the easiest to identify when handpiece troubleshooting. So just know, you are not alone! This happens for a couple of reasons; there is debris stuck in the bearings, there is built up debris in the vane motor/rotor, something is blocking the turbine impeller from spinning, or the bearings have gone bad/broken.

If the bearings are broken, or if something is stuck blocking the impeller, you are going to have to send it in for repair; we need to replace bearings and insure that the impeller has not been severely damaged. However, if you find during the high speed handpiece troubleshooting steps that the handpiece has stopped spinning because of built up internal debris, it is simple to fix on your own. With the handpiece not running, wiggle the bur back and forth to try and free up and dislodge anything stuck inside. Next, simply use handpiece cleaner aerosol spray and spray it down the air port of the handpiece as directed on the can. Run the handpiece upside down ensure the spray, as well as debris, is getting ejected out of the head area. Once you have used the cleaner spray, use handpiece lubrication spray and do the same steps as above. The lube will eject the remaining cleaner, and provide fresh, clean lube to the handpiece bearings. If the handpiece is still not spinning correctly, perform the first step one more time to see if the bur feels any more smooth. If it does, try one more time; if it does not, you likely have a larger problem going on.

What to Do if Your Dental Handpiece Is Not Spraying Any Water?

One of the most common issues in high speed handpiece troubleshooting is the handpiece quits spraying water over time because they have some material or debris that is lodged in the water port. Once again, if this arises, try spraying handpiece cleaner aerosol down the back end of the handpiece and letting it sit for a while to try and clear out the blockage. If this does not work, you can very carefully try using a thin wire through the water port to try and dislodge the blockage (only in direct attachment handpieces). If it is still not working, there are handpiece water uncloggers for sale (contact us for info) that allow you to increase pressure to the water line specifically. This pressure usually pushes the blockage out and is a key step in Kavo handpiece troubleshooting. If you have tried these steps and water is still not coming out as it should, it should be sent to a professional, like one of our Electric Handpiece Repair Professionals.

What to Do if Your Dental Handpiece Is Losing Power?

This is one of those signs that usually means that your handpiece bearings are getting worn out, or your impeller has become worn down and needs replaced, or in slow speed dental handpiece troubleshooting; it is usually caused from built up internal debris. However, you can try some simple handpiece troubleshooting remedies to ensure that is the case, and it is not something clogged in the bearings or the air port. Once again, bring out your handy dandy handpiece cleaner and handpiece lube cans and get to work. Ensure that you are following the directions on the bottles, and using the cleaner before you use the lubrication. If you had an underlying issue, this would clear it out. If your handpiece still has the same signs as before, it likely needs sent in for professional repair.

What Are the Common Handpiece Maintenance Mistakes?

As you can plainly see in these steps to resolve the issues, it can all be taken care of using one thing; handpiece cleaner and lubrication! (I count that as one). So if you are experiencing these over and over again, it is likely that your handpieces are not being lubricated or cleaned properly before sterilization. Why fix the problems after they happen, when you can prevent them from happening in the first place? You can read an in-depth article that talks specifically about dental handpiece maintenance, and the proper steps to ensure it is being done correctly.