A handpiece is an essential tool in the dental office. Approximately 60 years ago, the air-driven handpiece was introduced, revolutionizing dental care – from cleaning to tooth preparation. Over the years, technology has continued to advance, improving upon the older forms. At National Dental Upper East Side, we use the latest technological advances to provide you with the best possible oral healthcare. This includes the use of electric handpieces.


An electric handpiece is a tool that relies on electricity to generate a rotary motion, as opposed to older handpieces that are air-driven. It can be likened to how an electric drill operates. Typically, handpieces are arranged in a variety of speeds. It is the speed that determines the purpose. For instance, high-speed electric handpieces are used for preparing a tooth for a crown, while lower speed handpieces are reserved for endodontic treatment, removing cavities and cleaning/polishing teeth.


Electric handpieces come with the ability for us to preset speeds into the tool that we need to complete specific jobs. For instance, polishing a composite resin material needs to be done at 6,000 to 8,000 RPM, allowing us to avoid generating too much heat. Ceramic restorations can be polished at higher speeds. We can also preset speeds for the removal of cavities, endodontic treatment, tooth preparation for restorations, and more. Preset speeds allow us to eliminate the guesswork and unpredictability of using the foot pedal of an air-driven handpiece. Being able to “dial in” specific speeds makes electric handpieces much more versatile.


Along with the specific speed, electric handpieces have consistent torque. What this means is that when the tool is polishing or cutting (whether it’s your tooth or a dental restoration) it will not get bogged down, or slow down, in the process. With air-driven handpieces, they often stall at lower speeds, when used for long periods of time, or when cutting through materials like metal or ceramic. This is not an issue when it comes to electric handpieces.


Many patients have a fear of the dentist. What often makes this fear worse is the loud sounds that the air-driven handpieces make. Even with the advances in air-driven hand tools, the sound of the air turbine has only been lessened so much. The sound can be too much for some people, and can put many with dental anxiety off of seeking the treatments that they need. Skipping treatments, whether it’s a root canal or something as simple as a cleaning, can have devastating effects on your oral health. Electric hand tools operate on electricity, rather than an air turbine, and are therefore much quieter.
Without the noise, anxious patients are better equipped to relax and be comfortable in our chair while the necessary procedures are being completed.

The development of electric handpieces has gone a long way in improving our ability to provide you with the best oral care possible. For more information on just what electric handpieces can do for you, call National Dental Upper East Side today at (646) 736-2206!