Practice Tips #66: Can't Hold a Bur?

A dentist's handpiece is one of the ultimate tools in his dental office. Making sure it runs smoothly is very important.

The primary function of a handpiece is to provide power for rotary instruments, i.e. burs. If your handpiece won’t hold the bur, or won’t release the bur (so you can’t change burs) it effectively ceases to function.

Regular readers of Practice Tips will know that the chuck is the part of the turbine responsible for bur retention. Consult our issues on handpiece design and chucks for more information on this component.

There are basically two reasons for a chuck to cease functioning. One is simple break-down of the chuck itself: wear, breakage, or other alteration from the original specification preventing it from functioning as designed. The other is simple debris. If the chuck is clogged with debris, this will impede proper function.

This month we’ll show you how to properly maintenance the chuck in an auto-chuck handpiece to minimize debris build-up and eliminate it when present.

The steps illustrated below should be taken at least once a week on all auto-chuck handpieces to keep the chuck working as well as possible for as long as possible.

Materials required (see image below):
- Lubricant with a needle applicator (such as our pen oiler, although many lubricants include such a tip)
- A cotton-tipped swab
- Your handpiece


Step 1. Place a drop or two of lubricant into the chuck. If using a spray lubricant (such as Once-A-Day), a quick shot of lubricant should be sprayed into the chuck.

Dropping lubricant directly into the chuck

Step 2. Activate the chuck and insert a bur.

Inserting a bur

Step 3. While activating the chuck, (hold down the button if a push button handpiece) work the bur in and out to loosen any debris.

Working the bur in the chuck

Step 4. Remove the bur and clean any debris off of it with the swab. Some debris may be on the exterior of the handpiece, swab this off as well.

Remove and check the bur

Step 5. Re-insert bur and verify proper function. Bur should be held securely and remain in place if tugged.

Verifying proper function

Step 6. Repeat the above steps as needed. It is not uncommon to have a significant debris build-up so you may need to flush the chuck several times.

NOTE: We’ve demonstrated the technique with a Star 430 push button handpiece. We encounter clogged chucks on this make and model of handpiece frequently, but chuck cleaning should be a part of your regular weekly routine with all models of auto-chuck handpieces, Lares, Kavo, Midwest (push button or Power Lever™) or any others in your inventory. Add chuck cleaning once a week to your handpiece maintenance routine to help keep your handpieces functioning well.


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