My Best Handpiece

John J. Graeber, DMD

If asked what handpiece in my office I would consider to be the most valuable, I would consider its characteristics first. For example, is it effective for the majority of hard-tissue procedures? Does it cause pain to my patients? Does it cause collateral or iatrogenic damage to teeth? Is it quiet? Does it create a clean cut and the best bond strength? Is it able to polish stains easily?

Now, you might think I was questioning the characteristics of a laser handpiece, but no, I was questioning the characteristics of an air-abrasion handpiece, and the answers to all these questions are enthusiastically positive! My air-abrasion handpiece is effective for the majority of hard-tissue procedures; it does not cause pain, it does not cause collateral or iatrogenic damage; it is quiet, it does create a clean cut and the best bond strength; and it is able to polish stains effectively.

For more than 20 years, I have practiced mainly with the assistance of an air-abrasion system. Most cavities, regardless of size, are easily prepared with air abrasion, and there is little need to anesthetize unless the pulp is inflamed. Most patients easily tolerate the tickle it produces. No heat is produced because there is no friction. No noise is generated because there are no moving parts, and no handpiece is easier to use because nothing touches the tooth surfaces except microscopic particle of the abrasive powder.

Air abrasives create a roughened surface free of a smear layer or contaminants and have been shown to increase the bond strengths of all bonding techniques. There are several abrasives useful for dental procedures: aluminum oxide, 29 um – best for non-anesthetized applications; aluminum oxide, 50 um – for creating the best retention and bond strengths; sodium bicarbonate – best for heavy stain removal; and bio-active glass – best for desensitization and remineralization procedures.

There have been a number of air-abrasion systems available to the dental profession during the past 2 decades. Many have been poorly designed – too large of a tip opening, allowing too much powder to escape; uneven powder flow; and low air pressure that creates a mess both intraorally and extraorally. Also, most dentists have been hesitant to use equipment that creates uncontrollable aerosol in their treatment rooms.

Fortunately, there have been many improvements to equipment design since the first air-abrasion devices came into use. For example, the addition of a water shroud around the treatment beam of particles has greatly reduced the aerosol escaping the oral cavity.

My Best Handpiece

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