According to numerous studies, dental handpieces that are poorly maintained have the potential to result in immense injuries. If you are reading this, you are likely a clinician that knows and understand that handpieces are utilized to prepare the cavities within the mouth for restoration. These devices may be powered by AC power, water, air, or be classified as belt-driven. The handpiece is, of course, a handheld dental tool that may or may not include a foot control pedal that aids in the regulation of rotation direction, speed, or, to reach difficult to access locations within the mouth. If the dental handpieces that you use in your practice are not properly maintained on a regular basis, you could be putting yourself, your staff, and your patients at risk for injury.
Basic Processes and the FDA Notification
As a clinician, you use a dental handpiece to implement an assortment of basic processes. These include cutting, engaging in the act of abrading, burnishing, completing the finishing process, and conducting polishing. If you elect to use either a high speed or a low speed dental handpiece that is air-driven, it is easy to tell when a maintenance issue develops because the dental instrument will become extremely sluggish. Unfortunately, if you opt to use an electric dental handpiece, you will not be provided with the same type of warning that maintenance issues have developed. Instead, additional power will be transmitted to the head or the attachment that is on the device. This will result in the accumulation of an immense amount of heat and could result in either you or your patient becoming burned. This is why, in 2007, the FDA issued a notification claiming that many have become injured because of a dentist using electrical handpieces that were not properly maintained.
As mentioned previously, many patients have experienced severe burns while having a dental procedure performed by dental handpieces that were not properly maintained. Many patients experienced third degree burns which resulted in having restorative, plastic surgery performed. Unfortunately, burns that occur because of poorly maintained dental handpieces may not always be immediately recognized by the dentist or the patient until damage to the soft tissues in the mouth has already been done. The main reason for this is that many patients are placed under anesthesia. Naturally, if they are anesthetized, they are unable to actually feel the burn happening. Furthermore, the housing on the device will typically prevent the operator from feeling the high level of heat being emitted from the unit. The reports currently indicate that this type of injury most often happens during cutting teeth, cutting bone, extracting teeth, and similar types of dental procedures.
Be sure to bookmark this page and return next week for part 2 of our series, “Poorly Maintained Dental Handpieces Could Result in Injuries”. If you would like to ensure that all of your dental handpieces are up-to-date and functioning properly so that you may avoid any type of injury and/or other complication, contact us here at Hughes Dental today by calling: 800-773-0800