When you’re at the dentist’s office, most of your time is spent on your back with your eyes closed and your mouth wide open. What you may not realize is that no matter what is happening in your mouth, the dentist is likely using one single tool to do all that work. The tool is called a dental handpiece, and it can perform a variety of tasks. Here’s a quick guide to the tool in your mouth that you’ve never seen.
Works Like a Jet Engine
The handpiece is powered by compressed air that flows through actual turbines similar to those massive machines that power jet airplanes. These turbines cause torque on a rod that runs through the tool and causes a windmill in the head to rotate at high speeds. This high-performance tool is used so often that high speed handpiece repair is necessary from time to time to keep it running at an optimal level.
Performs a Variety of Tasks
The handpiece is also referred to as a dental drill sometimes. Like an electric drill used for carpentry, it has interchangeable bits in the head called burrs. These burrs are each designed to perform a task and the dentist can swap them as needed. One might help him or her polish teeth and another might help remove plaque. There are also burrs for cutting and sanding teeth.
The dentist will likely use the handpiece on every patient he or she sees in a day. Don’t worry though, the handpiece and burrs are meticulously cleaned between each patient. Using the traditional alcohol solution tasked with disinfecting most things would destroy the lubricant used on the delicate moving parts. Instead, an autoclave is used to achieve maximum sterilization.
The next time you visit the dentist, take a moment to look around at the various high-tech tools waiting to be used. You’ll now be able to point out the handpiece and impress your dentist with your knowledge of his equipment.