Practice Tips #10: Ultrasonic Scalers (Piezo vs. Magnetostrictive)

Ultrasonic Scalers: Piezo vs. Magnetostrictive

The debate between piezo vs. magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers for your practice will cut down labor and are indispensable for a practice. Having an electronic instrument that vibrates 25,000 times (or more) every second can be extremely useful and can be an effective way of providing treatment in a variety of procedures.

But what to choose? There are piezo ultrasonic units, magnetostrictive Cavitrons™, and even sonic scalers that connect to your unit like a standard handpiece. All of these units use mechanical means to create vibrations but they all do it in different ways.

Sonic Scaler Handpiece

First, the handpiece scaler. More properly these are referred to as sonic scalers (rather than ultrasonic). They normally operate at only 6 kHz. Given the lower frequency, they are less powerful than an ultrasonic units. The Star Titan is one of the best-known models of handpiece scaler, but there are many others.

Also known as air scalers, these scalers use a metal cylinder (rotor) balanced between o-rings to provide vibration when air pressure is applied. These attach to a standard handpiece coupler on your delivery system and operate at normal handpiece drive air pressure (32-35 psi).

Magnetostrictive Scaler

Next, we have magnetostrictive ultrasonic units. One of the most well-known brands is the Dentsply Cavitron™, but there are hundreds of other brands and models on the market that operate the same way.

Magnetostictive Scaler (#59-948)

Magnetostrictive scalers have metal stacks that vibrate and provide an elliptical motion of the tip. These scalers are considered easier to use (less technique sensitive), but are sometimes considered as less gentle.

These units have 25 kHz or 30 kHz frequencies. This technology has been around for a long time and historically, the magnetostrictive has been the most popular ultasonic design in the United States.

Piezo Scaler

The newest introduction to the US market is the piezo ultrasonic units. Piezo's have been around for a long time, but were predominately used in Europe.

Piezo Scaler (#60-045)

Piezo ultrasonics have ceramic stacks that provide linear motion and generally operate at a frequency of about 32-35 kHz. Its technique sensitive, given the linear motion of the tips. One must use the scaler parallel to the tooth surface to avoid “hammering” with the piezo tip. When used properly, many consider the piezo to be more gentle than magnetostrictive scalers.

Piezo scalers generally have a wider range of tips and are popular with dentists for endodontics and some surgical procedures, in addition to perio and the more commonly expected hygiene procedures.

American Dental Accessories, Inc. has a full line of ultrasonic units and replacement parts available.


Please note, comments must be approved before they are published