You use handpieces every single day, so wouldn’t you know when they are about to experience a dental handpiece fail? Some do! However, most people don’t! Most doctors will use the handpiece until it literally stops spinning, which can cause a whole different plethora of problems. If you wait too long to get the handpiece that has been causing you problems fixed, you might cause even more damage to that handpiece; instead of a simple $100, it can now be a $200+ repair. Just think, if you are driving your car and the light in front of you turns red, you simply gently apply pressure to the breaks until it comes to a stop. However, if you slam on the breaks, tires screech, you jar yourself to a stop… Same analogy applies to handpieces, just multiply it by 1,000! Your handpiece spins at 200,000 rpm’s, if that stops abruptly, you have parts and pieces blowing up and flying everywhere, causing all kinds of internal damage inside! How can you avoid this? Take a careful look, and take note when you see any of the following symptoms start to arise.

Common Signs of Failing Dental Handpiece


The first signs of failing dental handpiece is the fact that the handpiece is getting warm around the head area. Now, this may be hard to tell, and dangerous to check. Handpieces usually get room temperature, to extremely hot, very fast; just inherent in their physical designs. There are a lot of doctors out there who have experience the scary, but common accident of burning a patients cheek. When the handpieces start to fail, the tolerance of the bearings and o-rings start to lapse out of spec, which can cause friction in places there is not necessarily supposed to be. With friction, comes heat. Keep a close eye of the water on the handpiece, and every once in a while, before operation, run the handpiece for a couple of seconds and gently feel the head to make sure it is not hot. Warm is ok, but anything above 90 degrees is a cause for concern. This is typical in electric handpieces, and will usually need a electric handpiece repair.

Unusual noise and vibrations

This is the easiest sign to tell something is beginning to fail. If your handpiece suddenly sounds off, or loud it is about to fail. Same with vibrating; if the bur of the handpiece is no longer precise, and you can feel vibration in your fingers, it is usually because the handpiece bearings are beginning to wear beyond their tolerance, and it is near failure, you’ll be left with not working dental handpiece. The nice thing, is vibrating and noise go hand-in-hand. When the bur start to vibrate, the handpiece will make a high-pitched screaming noise; a tell-tell sign that things are about to go bad and you will need a highspeed handpiece repair. 

Cuts, scratches, and dents

One thing to keep an eye on that may not directly affect performance at first, but still needs repair before something drastic happens, is cuts, scratches, and dents on the handpiece. If the handpiece has a cut or scratch, in any part of the handpiece, it may not be getting the proper air pressure, or even worse, it could be sucking in unfiltered air and debris, which is going to lead to guaranteed signs of failing dental handpiece. If you notice a dent on the head, or on the body of the handpiece, we recommend sending it in to get repaired, especially with a dent on the head. Head dents will drastically affect the performance of that handpiece, and will need repaired to get that performance back. 

Decreased performance

This can be a factor of any of the above signs of failing dental handpiece, but also just happen on its own. If you are using the handpiece and notice that something just doesn’t seem right; maybe the bur isn’t spinning as fast as it should, or maybe it is no longer cutting like it used , it is likely about to fail and stop spinning or working all together.

What to Do in Case of Signs of a Failing Dental Handpiece

Now that we have talked about 4 signs of your handpiece beginning to fail, you may be wondering, “What the hell do I do now?” Well calm down! Let me explain; you probably already know what to do! We recommend sending the failing dental handpiece in as soon as you notice any of these signs that could lead to a major signs of failing dental handpiece. You are probably thinking, “Of course you want us to send it in because you repair it and make a bazillion dollars!” Well, actually, if you send the failing dental handpiece in before it experiences a major failure, you are likely saving yourself money as it will likely just be a simple repair. So, we are actually only making a half-a-bazillion dollars on the repair now.

Read more: Top 5 Ways To Choose A Dental Handpiece Repair Company


We hope that this gives you some clear pointers on not only what to look for in your failing dental handpiece, but what to do after you experience one of these signs. Also, trust us… send it in before it is too late, a simple overhaul is nearly 50% cheaper than a drastic repair. Are you experiencing any of these problems? Well let us know! We can help get the handpiece back and working in no time with our handpiece repair service!