Dental handpieces: Maintenance, repair, and infection control

The purpose of this course is to describe protocols for handpiece maintenance, including disinfection, sterilization, and repair.

3 CE Credits

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A peer-reviewed article by Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA


Dental handpieces have evolved significantly over the years1. While traditional air-driven handpieces are still preferred by many practitioners, electric handpieces are preferred by many due to the constant torque, reduced noise, and improvements in the smoothness of final preparations2. Regardless of which handpiece is used in practice, proper maintenance and care will elongate the lifespan of the equipment and promote improved functionality. Understanding how to clean and maintain these handpieces and their components properly will help the clinician achieve optimal results. Moreover, it is useful to know when to replace or rebuild handpiece turbines and knowing who to send the handpiece to for repairs are essential for quality and turnaround times. The purpose of this article is to describe protocols for handpiece maintenance, including disinfection, sterilization, and repair.

Educational objectives

Upon completion of this educational activity, the participant will be able to:

  1. Implement proper cleaning and sterilization techniques
  2. Provide proper lubrication of each handpiece and its components
  3. Avoid common mistakes
  4. Provide proper care for a fiber-optic or LED lens
  5. Demonstrate proper sterilization techniques for various handpieces
  6. Discuss handpiece turbines and the factors to consider when repair or replacement is necessary

Tija Hunter, CDA, EFDA, is a dental office manager in O’Fallon, Missouri. She is a 1981 graduate of Missouri College and holds certification for expanded functions in Missouri and Illinois. Hunter is a member of the ADAA and an ILDAA board member. She serves as the educational director of the Dental Careers Institute and is the founder of the Dental Assistants Study Club of St. Louis. She can be reached at

© Abhijith Ar |
Quick Access Code: 20002

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Course Includes

  • 11 Lessons
  • 1 Test
  • Course Certificate
  • CE credit(s): 3

    Course Type: Written

    Published Date: FEBRUARY 2021

    This continuing education (CE) activity was developed by Endeavor Business Media with no commercial support.

    This course was written for dentists, dental hygienists, and dental assistants, from novice to skilled.

    Educational methods: This course is a self-instructional journal and web activity.

    Provider disclosure: Endeavor Business Media neither has a leadership position nor a commercial interest in any products or services discussed or shared in this educational activity. No manufacturer or third party had any input in the development of the course content.

    Requirements for successful completion: To obtain 3 CE credits for this educational activity, you must pay the required fee, review the material, complete the course evaluation, and obtain an exam score of 70% or higher.

    CE planner disclosure: Laura Winfield, Endeavor Business Media dental group CE coordinator, neither has a leadership nor commercial interest with the products or services discussed in this educational activity. Ms. Winfield can be reached at

    Educational disclaimer: Completing a single continuing education course does not provide enough information to result in the participant being an expert in the field related to the course topic. It is a combination of many educational courses and clinical experience that allows the participant to develop skills and expertise.

    Image authenticity statement: The images in this educational activity have not been altered.

    Scientific integrity statement: Information shared in this CE course is developed from clinical research and represents the most current information available from evidence-based dentistry.

    Known benefits and limitations of the data: The information presented in this educational activity is derived from the data and information contained in the reference section.

    Registration: The cost of this CE course is $39.00 for 3 CE credits.

    Cancellation and refund policy: Any participant who is not 100% satisfied with this course can request a full refund by contacting Endeavor Business Media in writing.

    Provider information:

    Dental Board of California: Provider RP5933. Course registration number CA code: 03-5933-20002. Expires JANUARY 2024. “This course meets the Dental Board of California’s requirements for 3 units of continuing education.”


    Endeavor Business Media is a nationally approved PACE program provider for FAGD/MAGD credit.
    Approval does not imply acceptance by any regulatory authority or AGD endorsement.
    11/1/2022 to 10/31/2024.
    Provider ID# 320452
    AGD code: 250


    Endeavor Business Media is designated as an approved Provider by the American Academy of Dental Hygiene, Inc. #AADHPNW (January 1, 2022–December 31, 2024). Approval does not imply acceptance by a state or provincial Board of Dentistry. Licensee should maintain this document in the event of an audit. AADH code:


    Endeavor Business Media is an ADA CERP–recognized provider.

    ADA CERP is a service of the American Dental Association to assist dental professionals in identifying quality providers of dental continuing education. ADA CERP does not approve or endorse individual courses or instructors, nor does it imply acceptance of credit hours by boards of dentistry.

    Concerns or complaints about a CE provider may be directed to the provider or to CERP at



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