Studies have shown that the turbines in air-driven, high-speed dental handpieces fail more often than any other component within the dental instrument.
Does Turbine Speed Impact Failure Rates?
It is a known fact that turbines in dental handpieces operate at excessive speeds. In fact, average speeds range from 400,000 to nearly 500,000 rpm on high-speed, air-driven dental handpieces. These speeds are necessary to handle the tasks of the clinician, such as cutting through the tooth structure during procedures.
High speed turbines aid in the precision of the clinician. They help in creating clean margins, reducing trauma to surrounding structures, and ensuring perfection of oral health procedures. Unfortunately, these high speeds do detrimentally impact the mechanics of the dental handpiece and may result in turbine failure.
“Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond…” – Miguel De Cervantes
What is the First Sign That the Turbine is Failing?
When the turbine in air-driven, high-speed dental handpieces start to fail, the first event that typically occurs is the wearing of the bearings.
The first sign that a dental handpiece turbine is failing is the speed of the dental instrument.
It will start to slow down.
As a practitioner, you will likely find that it takes longer amounts of time to cut and that the margins are very rough. As a turbine continues to fail, you are likely to discover that there is a high level of demand on you. You will notice that your hand and wrist start to experience discomfort and you may become fatigued easier than usual.
What is Concentricity?
As a practitioner, you may have heard of the term “concentricity”. This is the unique ability of the dental handpiece to produce a cut line that is directly reflective of the overall diameter of the bur on the instrument.
A fully operative dental handpiece will perform smooth cuts when it comes to the bur, vibrate a lot less, and will be more comfortable for the patients that you serve.
Concentricity is one of the main components of dental handpiece functionality. If a turbine starts to fail, you will quickly discover a much lower level of concentricity when performing procedures.
What About Turbine Bearings?
As a practitioner, it is important to know that the only component of your dental handpiece that actually moves is the turbine.
The “heart” of the turbine are small bearings. These are held in place by a retainer, which kind of acts like a cage to hold the bearings in place.
When subjected to sterilization, this retainer may become brittle. If it reaches the point of disintegration, the turbine will no longer be able to operate.
When this happens, a black substance will be emitted from the head of the dental handpiece.
How Do I Get My Dental Handpiece Repaired?
Now that you have read this guide, it is quite likely that you have recognized a few signs that indicate your turbine may be failing. If that is the case, we can help!