Finding the right handpiece

March 21, 2012
Renee Knight
Issue 6

When it comes to selecting a handpiece for your practice, there certainly isn’t a shortage of options to choose from. There are a variety of handpieces available with similar features and designs to make handpiece use seamless and comfortable.  

When it comes to selecting a handpiece for your practice, there certainly isn’t a shortage of options to choose from. There are a variety of handpieces available with similar features and designs to make handpiece use seamless and comfortable.  

So with all these options, how do you choose the handpiece that’s the best fit for you and your practice?

We recently spoke with Betty Garabedian, president of Handpiece Experts, a company that ensures quality certification as part of an integrated group of dental technology companies offering dentists a variety of products and services to solve their handpiece-related issues. The company’s 165-plus dealers in North America offer both mobile on-site and mail-in-services. Handpiece Experts repairs more than 800 handpieces each day. Garabedian outlines what dentists should know when buying a new handpiece for their practice, from what questions you should ask your sales reps about the handpiece warranty to what a dentist truly needs to know about handpiece maintenance.

Q: What should dentists think about when buying a handpiece?

A: It depends on the type of procedures the doctor does in his practice and if it’s a specialty practice and what type of handpiece is the best fit. And beyond that it’s a matter of taste. In Europe, 80 percent of doctors use an electric handpiece. In the United States it’s 30 percent. We thought electric was going to be the thing and that everybody would upgrade to an electric handpiece. I don’t know if the economy slowed that down, but many doctors decided they wanted to wait to make the switch. It’s a big change for them.

Q: What should dentists be asking their sales reps about the handpieces they’re interested in?

A: They really need to find out about the warranty-how long the warranty lasts, who will repair the handpiece and how much will it cost if they have to replace the turbine after the warranty runs out. A sales person will do everything to sell the product and will even sell at cost, but don’t forget they will try to make money after the sale on service costs. It’s important to find out how much it will cost to repair the handpiece after the warranty is up. Sometimes it can cost $1,000 to repair a handpiece.

You need to ask how long it will take to repair a handpiece if you send it out for service. Sometimes it can take as long as two months. Many doctors don’t have a spare handpiece they can use while it’s gone, so it’s essential to find out exactly how long you can expect it to be out.

You also need to ask if you can try the handpiece. Ask the sales rep to leave a demo of the handpiece that you can use in your practice. This is a tool you’re going to use for the next 10 years. You want to make sure it’s a good weight, that the angle is comfortable and that it runs as smoothly as what you’re using now.

Q: What should dentists know about handpiece maintenance? 

A: Dentists don’t know much about maintenance because they usually have somebody in the office who takes care of it. But it’s something they should be worried about because first of all they can spend a lot of money on repairs. They should be worried about where their handpieces are being sent and if they could get a better price if they sent them somewhere else. A lot of times everything is sent to a large distributor and the dentist doesn’t know who’s fixing the handpiece. It could be a student fixing the handpiece yet charging a lot of money. I deal with independent guys, where you get a better price and you know who’s fixing the handpiece. It’s like taking your car to a dealership to fix it or taking it to the garage guy you know. The repair portion and maintenance portion of how they’re spending their money should be something dentists are looking into.