One clinician's view on DENTSPLY Midwest's Quiet-air dental handpiece and Midwest Air Repair

May 14, 2012
Stan Goff

Issue 5

I have been a prosthodontist for more than three  decades, concentrating in Oral Rehabilitation, and have done more than 50,000 units of crown and bridge. Each tooth has been prepared with a Midwest Quiet-air. A practice like mine is a litmus test of any highspeed. Probably the most severe service a handpiece can endure is cutting off old bridgework, particularly non precious prosthesis. For this you need a handpiece that can deliver high torque as well as high speed to get the job done.

I have been a prosthodontist for more than three  decades, concentrating in Oral Rehabilitation, and have done more than 50,000 units of crown and bridge. Each tooth has been prepared with a Midwest Quiet-air. A practice like mine is a litmus test of any highspeed. Probably the most severe service a handpiece can endure is cutting off old bridgework, particularly non precious prosthesis. For this you need a handpiece that can deliver high torque as well as high speed to get the job done. The Quiet-air delivers!

Why select the Midwest Quiet-Air?
Proven quality and value separate it from the competition. I run my handpieces at close to 100 psi, which is 3X the recommended air pressure, and still get acceptable service life from the turbines. At this air pressure I can prepare teeth and cut crowns off quickly, which enhances patient comfort.

I use a standard bur wrench that allows me to “chuck out” the burs with confidence to prepare long, periodontally treated teeth. Just as important, I also can modulate the speed while still maintaining torque for fine finish work. These severe service conditions are commonplace, and these handpieces can take the beating and get the job done.

In long cases preparing arches of teeth, I particularly appreciate this handpiece’s light weight and the visibility around the head of the Quiet-air. The relatively narrow diameter of the handpiece is comfortable to hold for long periods of time. It is slightly longer than most handpieces, which to me gives better balance and allows a grip farther away from the head for those occasional clinical situations where this is an advantage.

Midwest Quiet-air
The classic Midwest Quiet-air fiber optic highspeed handpiece offers exceptional torque. It includes durability under heavy sterilization conditions, high torque with excellent cutting efficiency, and is available with or without fiber optics. Additionally, the Midwest Air Repair service completes manufacturer-certified repairs in 2 business days roundtrip.


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Would you recommend Midwest Quiet-air to a colleague?
Absolutely. I learned a long time ago that in dentistry, as in life, just because something is new does not mean that it is better. This design originated in the 1960s and has been improved upon ever since. I own about 30 Quiet-air handpieces and buy 4 or 5 new every year.

Related Article: Finding the right handpiece

While I cannot claim to have tried every handpiece, I have tried most of the common brands, including electrics, and have not felt compelled to change my winning game.  That is another lesson I learned a long time ago!

What about air turbine replacement?
Prior to the mid 1980s, most highspeed handpieces were “sterilized” by wiping them down with a disinfectant.  That all changed of course, with the advent of HIV/AIDS and the requirement of real sterilization protocols. Almost overnight, turbine replacement became a big deal - and a big problem. Suddenly, the service life of turbines was a small fraction of their pre-autoclave days.  

Just maintaining my highspeed inventory of 30 Quiet-airs became a big headache and a sizeable expense. As a prosthodontist doing primarily crown and bridge, it seemed I was now blowing a turbine a week instead of once a month or so. Admittedly, I put my handpieces through severe service cutting off old crowns and bridgework and preparing teeth daily. Grinding away structure with a large coarse diamond is much tougher on a handpiece than preparing cavity preparation with small carbides. I also run my Quiet-airs over the recommended air pressure to maximize cutting speed and torque, so you can imagine the importance of reliable turbine repair to me.

Why choose genuine Midwest turbine repair?
Highspeed dental handpiece turbines are complex precision structures. Consider that the Quiet-air turbine spins at about 400,000 rpm at 30 psi (and even more at higher air pressures). Everything that moves will wear. In highspeeds, wear can occur on the turbines, ball bearing assemblies, chuck, and even the inside of the handpiece head. It does not take much wear at 400,000 rpm to cause failure.

I admit to being intrigued by the do-it-yourself turbine rebuild systems. I did dozens of repairs with mixed results. Sometimes the rebuild would last months and other times days. Sure, it was relatively inexpensive but it was also unpredictable. I then tried a number of aftermarket turbine repair services but again found mixed results. My dental rep then suggested I send my Quiet-airs back to Midwest for a factory rebuild. At about $250 it was a bit more expensive than the other services but certainly worth it in quality and longevity. The rebuilt handpieces were very close to brand new. I was most impressed when Midwest sent one of my older Quiet-airs back to me with a note that said it was not rebuildable due to wear inside the head. That handpiece was retired after 22 years of service. I wish more dental equipment would last as long, don’t you?

In the time I have been using Midwest rebuild service the total cost of handpiece maintenance has actually gone down. This means that despite this service being more expensive, the rebuilds are lasting a much longer time. Midwest genuine factory rebuild service is a good example of “you get what you pay for.”