The technology behind electric handpieces

June 6, 2017

How the Contra-Angle EVO.15 electric handpiece from Bien-Air enhances efficiency and patient safety.

Dr. Bart Whitesell never thought he would incorporate an electric handpiece into his practice. As a dentist who’s been practicing for about 30 years, he’s a creature of habit, and he was content with the air-driven handpiece he already had. So when he agreed to try the Contra-Angle EVO.15 electric handpiece from Bien-Air as a courtesy to the sales rep, he had no intention of actually purchasing it.

Almost a year later, Dr. Whitesell uses the handpiece in his practice every day. He was immediately impressed with the torque, the quiet operation and how easily it cut. Now, he can’t imagine practicing without it.

“Putting it in my hand made all the difference in the world. Actually using it sold the product,” Dr. Whitesell says. “Patients don’t like the sound of the drill, and this handpiece is much quieter than a traditional air-driven handpiece. The fiber optics are very good and even though it’s larger than a traditional air-driven handpiece, it’s comfortable to hold.”

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The team at Bien-Air spent about two years developing the handpiece, with R&D, industrialization, quality, manufacturing and assembling, supply chain, marketing and product management all involved in the process, says Joël Poget, vice president of global product management and OEM business for Bien-Air. They wanted to provide dentists with an electric handpiece that was not only easy to use and that cut efficiently, but that also enhanced patient safety.

The technology behind the handpiece meets all those needs, Poget says, and enables dentists to efficiently perform a variety of procedures without worrying about accidently burning the patient.

“The great added value of such a project is the ability of Bien-Air to listen to the market needs and translate them into a new product,” Poget says. “The perfect collaboration between all the company’s departments is also a key success factor.”

A focus on safety

As more dentists turn to electric handpieces for a variety of procedures, patient burns caused by these handpieces are becoming more common, Poget says. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as other national public health authorities have reported an increase in these injuries, according to the FDA’s “Letter to Electric Dental Handpiece Manufacturers Regarding Reports of Overheating and Patient Burns.”

The most severe incidents have led to painful third-degree burns that require patients to have reconstructive surgery. When this happens, Poget says, dentists are often subjected to lengthy legal actions that cost them both time and money.

“In dental procedures making use of electric handpieces, the briefest contact between the instrument’s push-button and the patient’s inner-cheek causes the former to overheat, resulting in possible burn injuries,” Poget says. “While overheating can be an indication of a damaged or clogged instrument, laboratory evaluations reveal that this hazard is just as prevalent in new and properly maintained electric handpieces.”

Bien-Air addressed this problem with its proprietary CoolTouch+ heat-arresting technology, which is available on the EVO.15 1:5 L models. The complex technology took years to develop, Poget says, and is proven not to exceed human body temperature. The handpiece’s heat arresting properties are made possible by a configuration of an alumina bead and a thermally-insulated ceramic push-button, and is the feature dentists who use the handpiece tend to appreciate most.

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“This frontline technology exhibits an invariably safe temperature of the handpiece’s head, even in the most rigorous conditions,” Poget said. “It is engaged to protect both the patient and the clinician during some of the profession’s most frequently performed procedures.”

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Designed for accuracy and quiet operation

The Accu-Chuck PreciPlus bur-retention and rotation drive mechanism, also available on the EVO.15 1:5 L models, not only features vibration-cancelling properties that reduce noise interference (a feature patients greatly appreciate), but it also allows for stability and accuracy regardless of speed and torque, Poget says.

Torque and accuracy are the two key features Dr. Whitesell noticed the very first time he used the EVO handpiece, and are features he said makes his life as a dentist easier.

“It has a lot of torque. If I have to cut off a crown or bridge, for example, it’s much quicker and more efficient than a traditional air-driven handpiece,” he says. “Patients don’t like to have the drill in their mouth and want to get the procedure over with as fast as possible. If you can save even two minutes of chair time, that’s a big deal for the patient.

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Easy to operate

During the development process, Bien-Air focused on creating a handpiece that was easy to use as well as ergonomic, Poget says. As part of Bien-Air’s Micro-Series line, the EVO handpiece’s light weight offers more balanced manipulation and reduced hand and wrist fatigue. The handpiece’s small, shockproof stainless steel head provides maneuverability and accessibility to third molars.

Dr. Whitesell, who has used smaller air-driven handpieces for his entire career, says it only took him a few days to adjust to the EVO. While it’s a little bigger than what he was used to, it was still comfortable to hold from the very beginning.

“The handpiece makes the dentist’s quality of life better,” Dr. Whitesell said. “It’s not going to take you as long to do your preparations, the patients are going to like it, and it’s going to save you a little bit of time.”

Dependable and durable

When the team at Bien-Air designed the handpiece, they knew they needed to create a durable product that dentists like Dr. Whitesell could depend on. To achieve that, they fitted the handpiece with a specially designed rotor’s head, giving it a longer service life. The efficient fastening system also helps prevent adverse events linked to bur slippage, Poget says.

Dr. Whitesell has used the EVO handpiece for almost a year now, and said he hasn’t had any problems or downtime since incorporating it into his practice. It’s a durable, reliable handpiece that gets the job done quickly, efficiently and consistently, and that benefits both him and his patients.

“It’s the torque,” Dr. Whitesell says. “You use an air-driven handpiece more like an air brush. You hit the tooth in increments. With an electric handpiece, you can be more consistent because it’s not going to slow down when it touches tooth structure.”

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Better results

While Dr. Whitesell never envisioned using an electric handpiece in his practice, he’s glad he decided to give the EVO handpiece a try. The handpiece’s technology keeps patients safer, shortens procedure times and enables him to cut accurately and efficiently. He knows he can depend on the handpiece and that patients will appreciate the quieter, smoother operation, as well as the final outcome.

“With the speed in which you can prep teeth, you tend to have a little more time to look at your prep, and the overall procedure is a little bit slower because the handpiece is that much faster,” Dr. Whitesell said. “You’re spending more time staring at what you’re doing. That gives me better results.”