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HIGH SPEED TURBINE DRILL

Most dental drilling is carried out using the high speed turbine drill – the one that makes the high pitched whine that comes back to the waiting room and terrifies the next patient! Those drills are the workhorses of dentistry.

imageThey have a tiny turbine driven by compressed air, above and around the drill chuck, which spins the bur about 250,000 revolutions per minute.

With eight cutting edges to a drill, for example, that is 4,000,000 cutting strokes a minute, and the drill removes material very quickly, which is good, because it means less time for you under treatment. However, the drill only runs that fast under no load. As soon as it starts to cut it slows down, as you can hear as it is being used. This not only slows its cutting, but it means that the drill will cut much more aggressively at first, and then less so as it slows.

Having a drill that cuts irregularly is not conducive to great accuracy – a problem that the dentist tries to overcomes with skill.

SLOW SPEED DRILL

The other drill that you will see on a dental unit is the slow-speed drill. It uses different burs and is designed to run slowly, but with more torque. It is the drill that makes a low-pitched grinding noise in your tooth.Modern low-speed handpieces are often powered by micromotors, small electric motors with low noise and high torque, which can run at speeds up to 40,000 rpm. These are expensive but provide a very steady torque output – just what the high speed drill needs, but lacks.

THE BEST WAY

By connecting to a micromotor a handpiece that accepts the high speed burs, and that is geared to speed up rotation by a factor of five times, you have a drill with high, steady torque and the rotational speed (200,000 rpm) to replace the air turbine. Because it cuts quickly and steadily, it makes it easier to produce a good finish.

Micromotors and high speed handpieces are not cheap, but the results are better for you.

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