What Causes Failure In Dental Turbines?

Posted on: May 17, 2019


  • Bearings (specifically the bearing cage) will generally fail first, mostly because of: 1.Debris
  1. Excessive air pressure
  2. Excessive temperatures during sterilization
  3. Side load stress
  4. Water from the air storage tank of the compressor
  5. Use of bent burs or a bur that is not fully seated
  • Rapid cooldowns of handpieces after sterilization with cold water. Rapid cooldowns could cause warping of handpiece components and you could also introduce contaminants onto your sterilized instruments.
  • Running handpieces without burs. Doing so could cause damage to the spindle/chuck assemblies.
  • Irregular lubrication. The chuck must be lubricated at least once a week to keep it clean and functioning well. Debris can clog the chuck and interfere with holding the bur.
  • Very important is to use correct burs. One of the most common failures in dental turbines is the using of incorrect burs with less than 1,59 mm in diameter. Unfortunately, there are many thinner and softer burs on the market coming from low costs productions and in turn available at attractive prices. If burs are too narrow or too soft, the chuck cannot hold them well. During the rotation of 300.000 revolutions per minute or more, incorrect burs will sooner or later start to deviate and consequently cause the failure of the chuck mechanism.

Handpiece Maintenance Tips 101



  • Introduced into the handpiece through dirty air and water every time air pressure is released.
  • The best way to remove it is to flush the handpiece between patients using a handpiece cleaner and lubricant.
  • Blow out the handpiece using compressed air to remove loose debris, cleaner, and lubricant before sterilization (a handpiece should never be run without a bur!).


Air Pressure

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


Sterilization Tips

  • Never exceed 275ºF (135ºC) during the sterilization cycle; use the lowest temperature possible while still achieving proper sterilization of instruments.
  • Subjecting bearings to higher temperatures 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 and Water Supplies

  • Must remain free of debris.
  • Filters should be used and checked often.
  • Compressor oils and carbons must be filtered from the air supply.
  • An air dryer should also be used and maintained as required.


Push Button Spindle Maintenance

  • Push button spindles are made of metal components and require small amounts of lubricant and periodic flushing for an extended life span.
  • Use a handpiece cleaner or combination cleaner/ lubricant (lubricating alone is not enough).
  • Spray handpiece cleaner and lubricant up into the front of the spindle; an adapter may be required.


  • Then flush the handpiece to remove debris from the handpiece head that has been introduced from flushing the spindle.
  • Doing this will help remove debris from within the spindle assembly, which will prevent the spindle from sticking open or failing.


Lube Free or Maintenance Free Turbines (Beware)

  • Only the bearings are maintenance free!
  • The bearings are pre-greased at the factory and shielded to help protect them from debris and the removal of lubricants during use.
  • Other turbine components still need to be maintained; O-rings will dry out without lubricants and push button spindles require lubrication and flushing.