Dental handpieces are one of the most important pieces of equipment used every day. Whether we are talking RDH handpieces to aid in cleaning and polishing; or specialized handpieces to make dental surgery possible. Without handpieces, there is no doubt that dentistry would be a completely different practice.
When you have something this important to your practice, why not keep them in tip-top shape. There is nothing worse than prepping a room, sitting down to get to work, and the handpiece isn’t operating properly. Sure! breakage happens; however, what if there was one single, simple thing that you can do that would greatly increase their life, and optimum performance? Well there is, and the best part; its relatively inexpensive.
The Importance of Dental Handpiece Lubrication
Handpiece lubrication is the single most important thing you can do that will increase their operational longevity. Over the past decade, and the thousands of handpieces that I have repaired; one thing is shockingly apparent; Handpieces that are properly lubricated last upwards of 40% longer than handpieces that are not.
You may be surprised at the many benefits of lubricating your handpieces:
- Allows bearings to operate with less friction, which increases their life.
- Protects vital components of the extreme heat during sterilization
- Protects internal components from corrosion and rust
- Clears air lines and water lines from built up debris
As you can see, it’s much more than just lubricating the bearings. Rather, it is a complete handpiece care solution.
How to Lubricate A Dental Handpiece Properly?
To view a step-by-step, in-detail guide of the handpiece lubrication process, you can view it in my other blog post here. I will mention the several ways to properly lubricate your handpieces, but you will find a more in detail approach that breaks down the process there.
There are 3 different approaches to lubricating handpieces; each one is the same idea, just in slightly different ways. The first two feature manually lubricating the handpiece. You can either use an aerosol spray, or a pin needle dropper to administer lubrication to the turbine, or the low speed motor components. When using one of these approaches, the most important step is to run that handpiece after. This allows the lubricant to reach the vital components of the handpiece, and spread evenly everywhere needed.
If you have an automated handpiece cleaning system, which is the 3rd approach. You do not have to run the handpiece afterwards. Just place the handpiece properly into your system, and it will do all of the work for you.
Lubricate the Handpiece Chuck Separately
Although you may be properly lubricating your handpieces, there is one step you may be forgetting about. Because of the design and operation of high speed handpieces, the chuck mechanism doesn’t allow any lubrication in unless you do so yourself. If you properly lube your handpiece and run it, the chuck still will remain dry. If you are experiencing sticky burs, slipping burs, and hard to press push buttons. Make sure to lubricate the handpiece chuck system on top of your other lubricating process.
Lubricate Before Sterilization, Not After
One of the most important reasons of lubricating your handpieces is to protect them from the severe heat experienced inside of the sterilizing unit. Lubricating your handpiece AFTER sterilizing doesn’t allow the lubricant to perform one of its essential designs. Make sure to lubricate your handpiece before sterilizing; this will allow your handpiece components to remain protected from the heat and will greatly increase your handpiece life.
What happens if I over Lubricate?
It is impossible to over lubricate a handpiece. You can run a whole bottle of aerosol or drop a whole bottle of lube into the handpiece. It does nothing of any damage to the handpiece. In fact, when you run the handpiece, it just purges all of the extra lubricant out. Truly, you are just wasting you own money by over lubricating. How do you know if you are over lubricating? Well, one way to tell is how much lubricant is spitting out while you are running the handpiece. If there seems to be an excessive amount, you are likely over lubricating. A general rule of just how much lubricant to use on your handpieces is 3 drops of the pin oiler, or 3 seconds of spray aerosal. So no, it isn’t going to hurt the handpieces by having too much lube, it is just going to hurt your pockets.
Should You Invest in an Automated Handpiece Cleaning And Lubrication System?
The burning question! Should you bite the bullet and invest in an automated handpiece lubricating/cleaning system? Well, the answer rely depends on what you are looking for. The systems require a hefty initial investment, but after that, they are just as expensive as what you are already doing. You are already buying cleaner and lubricant, you will just be purchasing them in different types, so that part of the cost is a wash.
Automated lube/cleaner systems make your assistants life easier, as well as ensures that your handpieces are receiving the proper amount of lubricant, in the right places. If you have a busy office, where time is of the essence, then one of these systems would do your practice wonders. If you have a slower office and you don’t mind taking the time to lubricate the handpieces yourself, then save your money. Just be aware, if you run into a busy time and your assistants are strained, the corners being cut to make up for time will be handpiece lubricating. The overall choice is yours!
I hope this article helped to break down everything you needed to know about handpiece lubrication. If you want longer lasting repairs, lube your handpieces the right way! If you are having handpiece problems, contact us today!