Highspeed Handpiece 101

Posted on: March 15, 2019

                      (HIGH-SPEED HANDPIECE 101)

The Turbine

The turbine consists of two miniature bearings, an impeller, and a spindle/chuck assembly that hold the bur (See Diagram Below)

Bearings are made of an inner race, outer race, retainer cage and 7 to 8 solid ball bearings. Each ball is about the size of a pen tip. The bearing balls ride on a grooved surface between the inner and outer raceways. The retainer keeps the balls equally spaced as they rotate around the inner race.

    Outer Ring            Cage                   Ball Bearings         Inner Ring        Complete Bearing                                                        

The ball bearings spin between 350,000-400,000 rpm which is needed for the handpiece to function properly. It is easy to see that any small amount of foreign substance inside the bearing will dramatically affect its ability to perform.


How Long Will A Handpiece Turbine Last?

  • The average life span of a handpiece turbine ranges from six to twelve months, depending on the level of use and maintenance procedures. The most common cause of premature failures is infield conditions.


Does Handpiece Head Size Matter?

  • Most brands of handpieces offer small (miniature) and large head versions and different brands vary (KaVo tends to have larger heads and Star has smaller heads).
  • Smaller heads have advantages for providing better visibility and easier access (especially with children).
  • Larger heads have the advantage of much higher torque and cutting power.
  • Using the correct handpiece for the job at hand is important. The use of torque style (Large head) handpieces should be used for heavy cutting when needed. Small heads should be used for lighter applications


Sterilization Tips

  • Never exceed 275 degrees Fahrenheit during the sterilization cycle; use the lowest temperature possible while still achieving proper sterilization of instruments.
  • Subjecting bearings to a higher temperature can cause the materials to break down and crack.
  • Handpieces should only be used at room temperature, not hot.
  • Never cool handpieces under cold running water; quick cooldowns are bad for turbine components.
  • If sterilizers are not maintained properly, excessive debris will bake onto the turbine and result in premature failure.
  • Never use a dry heat sterilizer; the excessive heat will damage bearings.

 Air Pressure

  • Excessive air pressure (exceeding 40PSI) could cause damage to the turbine bearings, reducing the performance of the turbine.
  • When handpiece performance is reduced at 35PSI the turbine should be rebuilt or replaced.

     10 Common Handpiece Maintenance Mistakes

 Do not use chemical disinfectants to clean or wipe off handpiece. When combined with heat of the autoclave, disinfectants may significantly reduce handpiece life.

  • Do not clean handpieces in ultrasonic cleaners.
  • Do not run the handpiece over 40PSI air pressure. Exceeding 40 PSI could cause damage to the turbine bearings, reducing the performance of the turbine.
  • Never cool handpieces under cold running water: quick cooldowns are bad for the turbine components.
  • Lack of lubrication. Be sure lube the handpiece and spray out the excess lube by running the handpiece before you autoclave the handpiece. Not running the handpiece before autoclave will cause the oil to gum up inside the turbine and other moving parts.
  • Leaving burs in the chuck during autoclave. When burs are installed in an auto chuck, the springs in the chuck are under tension. Applying extreme heat while under tension will weaken the springs and reduce the lifespan of the chuck. When burs are left in a manual chuck, it can cause a buildup of debris inside the chuck causing problems during operation.
  • Removing a handpiece from the autoclave too early. Removing the handpiece before the drying cycle is complete or before the handpiece has cooled down will cause condensation buildup inside the handpiece which will lead to internal rust and the handpiece will be reined.
  • Not cleaning the fiber optics- Failure to clean the fiber optics surfaces clean will reduce the amount of light that can transmit through the fiber optics thus reducing the brightness of the operating field.
  • Dirty Air & Water Lines- Having contaminated air or water lines can also contaminate all handpieces that run on those lines. You can check if you have dirty lines by purging the lines onto a clean white paper towel. If you see dirt or discoloration, your line may be contaminated.
  • Not changing the main water filter- The main water filter should be changed two times per year. If the water filter is not changed as recommend particles of debris will get into the handpieces and will cause clogged water lines and handpiece water spray heads will not work properly.

 How To Properly Lubricate You Handpieces


Motors & Highspeed        Prophy Angle              Sheath

Lubricate second largest hole         Lubricate top middle and bottom     Lubricate both ends of Sheath

 Heads & Prophy Angles

Take them apart and lube the top, middle and bottom. Re-install. We recommend adding lubricate 2-3 times per week based on use.

Sheath & Contra Angles

Lubricate the top and bottom with 1-2 drops of oil. Sheaths do not have to be oiled every day. We recommend adding oil 2-3 times per week based on use.

Low-Speed Lubrication

Lubricate air intake with 2-3 drops of oil after each use. Never autoclave a detachable motor.

Highspeed Lubrication

Lubricate air intake with 2-3 drops of oil. Add one drop into the chuck also. Highspeeds should be lubricated every time before use. Be sure to expel excess lubricant before you put them into the autoclave.

Always clean the surface with alcohol (Do not use harsh cleaners or ultrasonic cleaner)