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Different Types of Couplers for Dental Handpieces

Quick connect couplers for today’s dental handpieces provide the critical connection point that occurs between the tubing and the handpiece, itself. Dentists should be informed enough to choose the right type of couplers for their practice.

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The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has created specifics in terms of standards for the couplers that are designed to attach to dental handpieces. Today, there are three coupler types that are utilized regularly by dental professionals. These include the ISO-A, ISO-B, and the ISO-C.

In this brief guide, we will provide you with basic information on each of these coupler types.


The ISO-A dental handpiece coupler is identified in the dental profession as the “Borden” handpiece coupler. The unit has either two or three distinctive holes; however, there is no port available that serves as an exhaust. While these may be utilized within the United States, they are more commonly used in dental environments in Latin America and Europe.


The ISO-B dental handpiece coupler is often identified as the “Midwest” unit. These may have as little as two holes, but more commonly, they have four or five holes. Unlike the ISO-A coupler, this model has a port for the exhaust process. In fact, this is the absolute largest port on the unit. One of the holes is designed for illumination purposes. One of the holes on this dental handpiece coupler is dimpled and not drilled completely through. This allows dental practitioners to utilize fiber optics on certain handpieces. Out of the three types of dental handpieces used by practitioners in the United States, this one is considered to be the most common.


The ISO-C dental handpiece coupler is referred to as the “New Style”. This is mainly due to the fact that it includes a total of six individual pins. These are very similar to the ISO-B coupler, but there are additional holes that permit for the use of a handpiece or a lamp that utilizes a six-pin connection. Older dental handpieces will not benefit from these; however, if this type of coupler is obtained, an ISO-B coupler may be attached to ensure the functionality of the dental handpiece. While not yet considered to be the most common of dental handpiece couplers, more and more manufacturers are starting to develop dental handpieces that incorporate the use of six pins.

General Information on Dental Handpiece Couplers

All of the dental handpiece couplers outlined in this guide utilize thread and have a nut at the very end of the hose that attaches to the area that is threaded. This occurs on the back side of the dental handpiece.

There are dental handpieces on the market that do not use these standardized couplers. These devices use quick disconnect and/or swivel couplers instead.

Many practitioners find that these couplers are better, in terms of functionality and accommodation. When opting for these, you just have to be sure to get the model that is designed for your brand of handpiece.

If you’re interested in quick connect couplers to help you achieve your clinical tasks with a higher level of ease than the ISO models, take a look at our

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