Care and Maintenance of the NSK Handpiece

Lucy Ferraro
Authored by:
Lucy Ferraro

Introduction

The following video presentation describes the correct way to maintain and care for your NSK high speed and slow speed handpieces.

As the operator, you have a direct effect on the performance and durability of your handpieces. If you follow the simple steps described, you should be able to maximize performance and minimize cost and downtime for your handpieces.

Your NSK handpieces come with a manufacturer’s warranty; however this warranty does not cover failure due to poor maintenance or misuse. The supplier’s factory trained technicians are able to tell whether the failure of a component is maintenance related or a defect from the factory.

NSK Handpiece Overview

The word handpiece is used in the dental industry to describe instruments which most people would refer to as a drill. Handpieces are generally classified in two categories: high speed and slow speed.

A dentist will use a high speed handpiece for the cutting of tooth structure and the general removal of material. A slow speed handpiece is used for polishing, trimming, and prophy work.

Although there are many different makes and models of handpieces, they all share the same function and method of operation.

The handpieces you are using in your classes and will use in private practice are all driven by air compressors. The facility will generally have a central air compressor located in the utility room which will deliver anywhere from 30 – 45 pounds per square inch, or PSI, of air to the dental unit. Once the operator steps on the rheostat, air is released through the handpiece tubing and then into the handpiece.

When air is delivered to a slow speed motor, the internal components begin to move. The slow speed motor will reach a maximum speed of 22,000 rotations per minute, or RPMs, which will then transmit the power through a series of gears and other moving parts to any number of slow speed attachments you wish to use. Additionally, the speed of the motor can be set anywhere from 22,000 RPMs in forward motion to 22,000 RPMs in reverse motion.

The high speed handpiece operates differently in that there is only one moving part which is called a turbine. This turbine can be compared to a propeller on an airplane. As the air hits one blade after another, the turbine rotates faster and faster until it reaches a maximum speed of approximately 420,000 RPMs.

This high speed makes for effortless cutting and delivers a smooth and precise action with a minimal amount of vibration and discomfort for the patient.

In any private practice, the number one maintenance expense comes from repairs associated with handpieces. Due to repeated use and sterilization every handpiece will eventually require some kind of service. Replacement parts are very expensive and following a strict maintenance routine can easily reduce these costly repairs.

There are two ways to clean and lubricate your handpieces. First the manual process will be discussed, followed by the automated lubrication process with the QUATTROcare unit.

Manual Cleaning and Maintenance of the NSK High-speed Handpiece

The components that make up the high speed handpiece include the high speed coupler and high speed handpiece.

The coupler will be attached to the tubing, which permits you to quickly connect and disconnect the high speed handpiece. The coupler controls the water supply to the handpiece by turning the water adjustment ring. Be sure you remove the coupler from the tubing when the procedure is complete.

The high speed coupler contains a fibre optic light that projects from the tip, through the handpiece, to deliver illumination to the exact spot you need to examine.

Once the high speed handpiece has been removed from the coupler you must clean the handpiece under running water using a soft brush to remove any debris, and then dry with paper towel.

Next you must wipe the handpiece with a disinfecting agent and then you are ready to proceed to lubrication.

To begin the correct lubrication procedure, it is very important to note that the can of spray you will be using is actually a combination of cleaner and lubricant which mixes with a propellant causing the liquid to shoot into the turbine area of the handpiece.

You must remember to shake the can prior to each use. It is also important to make sure that the correct lubrication nozzle is used for the corresponding handpiece.

Here you see the operator inserting the nozzle and holding the can in an upright position. You must hold a paper towel around the head of the handpiece as some lubricant may leak out.

Hold the button down for 5 seconds or until lubricant is seen spraying out of the top of the handpiece. Check to see if the lubricant is clear on the paper towel. If not, repeat this step until the lubricant is clear.

After the lubrication procedure is completed, the handpiece must be taken over to the handpiece flush unit.  This is a critical step where the operator must run the handpiece for 20 seconds to help clean out any dirt or debris and ensure the lubricant has been delivered throughout the turbine chamber. No bur is required in the chuck for this procedure.

It is important that the handpiece is wiped with disinfectant gauze prior to being sterilized in order to remove excess oil. If the handpiece is not disinfected, the lubricant can congeal in the sterilization process resulting in premature wear and deterioration of the handpiece.

The high speed handpiece is now ready for the autoclave. It is recommended that the handpiece is bagged in a sterile pouch which will protect it from contaminants as well as protect the finish of the handpiece while in the autoclave.

It is important that the high speed coupler is removed from the hose, disinfected with an approved disinfecting agent and returned to your dental station in a sterilizing pouch. The coupler must not be sterilized in the autoclave.

Manual Cleaning and Maintenance of the NSK Slow Speed Handpiece

Here you see the components that make up the slow speed handpiece. Unlike the high speed handpiece, the slow speed handpiece is made up of two or more components, including the slow speed motor, the contra angle attachment, and the straight or “nosecone” attachment.

The motor must be threaded directly on to the tubing first as it the driving mechanism to all the attachments. The attachments themselves cannot be connected directly to the dental unit and will not operate without the motor.

The motor can be operated in a forward or clockwise direction as well as reverse or counter-clockwise. For all basic applications the motor should remain in the forward position.

Cleaning and lubricating of the slow speed motor and attachments should be performed after each use.  Lubrication is performed on each of the components individually. First, remove the slow speed attachment from the motor and then remove the motor from the tubing. To remove the motor, unthread it in a counter-clockwise direction.

As you can see on the back of the motor there are 4 tubes, which consists of 2 large tubes and 2 small tubes. For maintenance purposes, please disregard the 2 smaller tubes and concentrate on the 2 larger ones. The tube with the smaller diameter is the “drive air tube”. This is where you need to spray the lubricant. The larger diameter tube is the exhaust tube and no lubricant is required in this tube.

Shake the can before using it and be sure to hold the can in an upright position as the pressure of the spray will decrease if held on an angle. Place the slow speed lubricating nozzle into the “drive air tube” and spray the lubricant for 5 seconds. Please be careful to point the exhaust tube away from your body as excess lubricant may squirt out.

Before lubricating the attachments, they must be cleaned by placing them under running water and using a soft brush to remove any debris. Dry with a paper towel and then wipe with a disinfecting agent. Next, proceed to lubrication.

Ensure that the straight attachment, or the nosecone attachment, is in the locked position before proceeding to lubrication. It is also important to make sure that the correct lubrication nozzle is used for the slow speed handpiece.

Don’t forget to shake the can before using it and be sure to hold the can in an upright position as the pressure of the spray will decrease if held on an angle.

To lubricate the contra angle and nosecone attachments simply insert the slow speed nozzle into the attachment until it stops. Then hold the button for 5 seconds. As with the high speed handpiece you must cover the head of the attachment with a paper towel to prevent overspray. Check to see if the lubricant is clear on the paper towel. If not, repeat this step until the lubricant is clear.

After the motor and both attachments have been lubricated, proceed to the slow speed handpiece flush unit. This is a critical step that will allow the operator to run the motor and attachments for 20 seconds to help clean out any dirt or debris and ensure that the lubricant has been delivered throughout the motor and attachment.

Begin by running the motor through the flush unit for 20 seconds. Leave the motor on the unit and add the contra angle attachment to the motor on the flush unit, and run it for 20 seconds. Remove the contra angle, leaving the motor on the flush unit, and attach the nosecone attachment to the motor and flush for 20 seconds. No bur is required in the chuck for this procedure, but you must ensure that the nosecone attachment remains in the locked position.

It is important that the motor and each of the attachments are wiped with disinfectant gauze prior to being sterilized in order to remove excess oil. If they are not disinfected, the lubricant can congeal in the sterilization process resulting in premature wear and deterioration of the handpiece.

The slow speed handpiece attachments are now ready for the autoclave. Separate the attachments from the motor and place the attachment in a sterile pouch in order to protect them from contaminants as well as protect their finish while in the autoclave.

Finally, the motor must be disinfected. It is important to note that the slow speed handpiece motor must not be sterilized in the autoclave; only the slow speed handpiece attachments are sterilized. The outside of the motor, however, must be wiped with an approved disinfecting agent.

When manually cleaning both the high speed and slow speed handpieces, it is important to keep in mind that you must never use a wire or metal brush to clean the exterior surface, and never clean them in the ultrasonic bath, with boiling water nor with any chemicals.

Automated Cleaning and Maintenance with the QUATTROcare Unit

It is important for you to be knowledgeable on the proper way to manually maintain your handpieces.  Here at the University of Toronto in an effort to stay current with new technologies you will also have the opportunity to use the QUATTROcare unit which is an automated lubricating and flushing device for all of your handpieces excluding the slow speed motor.

The QUATTROcare unit is able to maintain anywhere from 1 to 4 handpieces at a time. Your QUATTROcare unit is set up to handle high speed and/or slow speed attachments.

The operation of the machine is simple. Remove the high speed handpiece from its coupler and place on to the high speed insertion coupler in the QUATTROcare.

Place your slow speed attachment on the E-style connector just as you would place your slow speed attachment on your slow speed motor.

Close the door and push the cycle button. The QUATTROcare unit will now lubricate and run your handpieces.  Once the cycle is finished a buzzer will sound indicating that you can remove your handpieces.

To remove the high speed handpiece just pull it off the coupler. To remove the slow speed attachment, depress the silver wedge which will release the attachment. For both handpieces, make sure to wipe off excess oil.

Your handpieces are now ready for sterilization in the autoclave.

Be aware that if the oil can light turns on, you will be unable to do a cycle until a new can of QUATTROcare spray is placed in the unit.

Note the QUATTROcare is for your high speed handpieces and slow speed attachments only.  Your slow speed motor must be manually maintained as previously described.

Remember, the highspeed coupler and the slow speed motor must not be sterilized in the autoclave. They must be wiped with an approved disinfecting agent, placed in a sterilizing pouch and returned to your dental station.

Closing Comments

Following these simple steps will extend the life of your handpieces and ensure that they provide you with many months of trouble free operation.

Before using the handpieces on your patients, be sure to run the handpiece for a while to drive out any excess oil and to check for any abnormalities in their operation.

If you have any questions of any kind please contact your Clinic Administrator for further clarification.