NuTorque™ Programmable Electric Handpiece
Handpiece provides maximum flexibility for a wide range of common procedures.
With innovations in micro-electric motors to drive the rotors at high speed with less friction, electric handpieces are currently experiencing a revival in the dental operatory. Other innovations, such as computerized torque and rotations-per-minute (rpm) control—benefits that cannot be had with air drills—are helping to make a strong argument in favor of electric handpieces, especially for applications such as endodontic treatment and precision cutting and shaping for crown-and-bridge procedures.
Electric Handpiece Advantages
Whereas the air-driven turbine is known for its caries removal and sheer cutting abilities, electric handpieces, such as the NuTorque™ Programmable Electric Handpiece by StarDental (a Division of DentalEZ Group) (Figure 1), provides maximum flexibility for a wide range of common procedures, such as endodontics, implants, oral surgery, and caries removal. It is extremely quiet at any speed, avoiding “noise fatigue” for the staff; patients do not like the sound of a drill to begin with, so the quieter the better.
True to its name, the NuTorque electric handpiece provides plenty of torque at all speeds for a constant, consistently smooth cutting action. When force is applied, there is little to no reduction in drill speed. Vibrations (which contribute to the sensation of pain) are virtually eliminated throughout the power-band; likewise, there is no bur chatter. The NuTorque handpiece also features a small head, an easy push-button autochuck for bur changes; quick and simple connections (universal E-type coupling) with 360° rotation; and a wide speed range from 100 rpm to 200,000 rpm. There are many handpiece attachments with different gear ratios to provide the proper handpiece for the task, whether that is caries removal, endodontics, or implant placement (Figure 2). A handpiece with a ratio of 1:5 can run at 200,000 rpm and is perfect for crown preparations. With a simple push of a button, the rpm speed can be changed so the operator can precision-cut a bevel at 40,000 rpm.
Weight Issues and Price Concerns
Electrics are always going to be heavier than pneumatics, simply due to the number of parts required in the head and handpiece body. But because the weight is in grams, weight is a relative issue. To put it in perspective, 1 gram is about the weight of a penny. Also, the bulk of the handpiece’s internal components are housed in the programming unit/base, and as lighter metals and micromotors are being developed and incorporated into the design, electric handpieces can only get lighter.
To address the weight issue—and turn it into a non-issue—the NuTorque electric handpiece is engineered to be extremely well-balanced during use. The center of balance of a handpiece is one of the most crucial aspects of how well it feels, and also the primary contributing factor to wrist fatigue. The NuTorque is exceptionally well-balanced and feels much lighter than its already svelte 98 grams.
Another perceived disadvantage of electric handpieces is the price. Electrics are more expensive than air turbines; but then again, an electric is a very versatile and flexible handpiece that is suitable for virtually any procedure (and do not require additional motors for endodontics and implants). Add in (or rather, subtract) the decreased maintenance costs and longer life of electric compared to air-driven, and the air vs. electric cost issue is a wash.
Why Own an Electric Handpiece?
There are a number of reasons to switch to an electric handpiece. A clinician can stop using a dry slow-speed handpiece for caries removal and cut at slow speeds using water to flush the preparation just as with an air-driven high-speed handpiece. This improves visibility and saves time. The operator does not have to switch handpieces to go from high speed to low speed, just change the attachment and speed of the motor. Changing speeds is as simple as pressing a button on the small touch screen controller.
Noise reduction is a definite motivating factor. It is easy to appreciate the quiet operation compared to the high-pitched whine of a pneumatic drill. Margin finishing and the preparation of smooth bonding surfaces are applications that are well-suited to the smooth, vibration-free power provided by electric handpieces—a benefit any dentist can appreciate. For endodontists, an electric is a must-have in every operatory, as rotary and step-back endodontic procedures are easily accomplished with the use of an electric handpiece. Electric handpieces also allow auto-reverse and auto-forward options.
Above all, this author prefers electrics because of their versatility and ease of use in the operatory. Because they are programmable and customizable, it is easy to establish preset speed and torque settings that allow switching from one kind of procedure to the next with a single touch on the control panel. Electric handpieces are not the same as they were just a few short years ago. They are much easier to use, cut more efficiently, produce a more precise cut, and are a pleasure to use.
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About the Author
This article was written by Martin Jablow, DMD, a general practitioner in Woodbridge, NJ, and a partner in Dental Technology Solutions.