Small Equipment Q & A

  • My Cavitron started to squirt water from the tip when the foot pedal isn't initiated. Do I repair my unit or replace it with another unit that will fit my handpiece inserts from my current one?

    If water flows without activating, the solenoid valve is the culprit & is likely stuck in the “open” position. You may be able to release the valve with a thorough cleaning. Ultrasonic cleaners are notorious for becoming clogged with biofilm. Try flushing the lines with a water line cleaner or some CLR. Rinse your lines really well before use to make sure the cleaner has been flushed out. If cleaning doesn't work, you will likely need to replace the valve. By routinely using a water line cleaner in your unit and by regularly changing filters on your Cavitron water line, you will reduce the incidence of clogging.

  • About three months ago, my Cavitron started to leak from the barrier around the inserts (where the tip is connected to the handle). I changed the o-rings, bought new barriers, and inserts. The problem didn't disappear, but became bearable (a few drops on the patients face every now and then). Fast forward three months and the issue is back again. What is causing this to happen?

    Your inserts are most likely clogged. Ultrasonic scalers are notorious for biofilm growth. As the water passes through the clogged tips, the water is flowing through the path of least resistance & causing it to leak around the edges. Try cleaning your tips with a handpiece cleaning wire (#15-99), an endo file (#42-352), or a similar instrument. Another option could be to put the insert in the ultrasonic cleaner & that will take care of the clog, but FIRST check your owner's manual. Most inserts will break down in the ultrasonic if you aren't careful. If your tip doesn't stay in your scaler, a clog is probably why. The water can't get out of the tip, so the the water is pushing them out of your scaler. Blowing high-pressured-air from the front might clear the biofilm out too. Soaking the tips in CLR or a similar solution can also help. Clogs can happen in your scaler. The ultra-small water lines get very hot when they are used, which makes it an ideal location for biofilm to grow. Purge your scaler after every patient & use a self contained water system, along with a water line treatment to help inhibit biofilm growth. Lastly, putting a filter on the water line that feeds your scaler will also benefit you.

  • How much will it cost to have a plumbed nitrous system installed? How many operatories will be needed to be equipped with nitrous to make it worthwhile? (customer is from Canada)

    For permanent units, around $20,000 - $26,000 (possibly around $4,000 or less for portable). In the US, it will typically run between $20k to $ 30k to install, so it might be similar. As for how many operatories, it isn't a matter of how many rooms you install it in, but how often you will use it and how long you'll be in the office. The savings will be in the gas. The larger tanks with a central system are MUCH cheaper. To confirm, talk to your gas supplier about pricing and quantity. Generally, if you plan to nitrous often (more than once or twice a day) you're better off with a central system from a lifetime cost standpoint, as well as a usability standpoint (more convenient).

  • What are the differences between a closed activation valve and an open activation valve?

    The difference is when the air goes through the valve. With a normally closed valve: the air will go through the holder when the handpiece is in the holder. Air will press down on the diaphragm in the handpiece block, keeping the handpiece from running. With a normally open valve: the air will go through the handpiece when it is lifted up. It pushes up on the diaphragm, allowing the handpiece to run.

  • My model trimmer has an issue with clogging. Either the water is too low on it and clogs or the water starts going all over the place. I cleaned out what I could, but it still seems clogged. Do you have any suggestions on what else I should be doing?

    This is classic clog behavior. The water gets stuck, builds up pressure and sprays water like a geyser. It is also pretty common for a clog to create a low flow, making you think you need to turn up the water pressure. What you should do is clean the water lines thoroughly. Disconnect the lines from both ends, checking the screens and all of the connections. This should be done monthly to prevent the clogs from becoming problematic.

  • I am thinking about purchasing a Microetcher to use chairside for sealants, porcelain repair, and old cement removal from crowns. Can I hook it up to a delivery system?

    Yes, there are three ways to connect a Microetcher. The first way is using a quick disconnect that goes to a dedicated air line. Not a lot of delivery systems have a female air QD, so you may need to add one (see Practice Tip #4 & #49). We have a male QD (#13-11) that attaches to a 1/8" o.d. line. The second way is by using an adaptor (#14-77) to connect the hose of the etcher & will allow you to connect it just like a handpiece to a standard 4-hole coupler (see Practice Tip #36). Lastly, you can permanently attach it to an air line with a t-fitting (#14-61). Because of all of the aluminum oxide, you might want another Microetcher in your lab as well for procedures you can't use chairside.

  • I want quality loupes, but I am not sure what level of magnification to try. I've been looking into the strongest ones, but are the stronger loupes better?

    The most important consideration with loupes is the working distance. They are supposed to allow you to see more without getting closer to the patient. It's imperative that you get loupes with a working distance that is comfortable for you. Once that is determined, look at the magnification within that distance. Some of the more economic loupes will have a static working distance, so they may not work for you regardless of your desired magnification level. If this is a first time purchase, we suggest starting with a lower magnification (2x or less). You will want to give yourself room to increase magnification as your needs change. It's not uncommon to try on a couple pairs to find the ones you like. We offer a 30-day trial period on our loupes, so you can take time to find the right fit.

  • What are the differences between a Cavitron and a Piezo ultrasonic scaler? Which one is better?

    First, neither type of ultrasonic scaler is "better" than the other, they are just different. Generally, the one that is best for your is the one that fits your individual needs and which one you like to use more. "Cavitron" is a trademarked brand name, but it is used generically referred to as a magnetostrictive scaler. Piezo scalers have a wider range of tips available, because the tips thread onto a vibrating shaft generated by the handpiece (which is usually autoclavable). Magnetostrictive scalers have a stack of metal plates that are part of the tip "insert." Electricity from the scaler causes the plates to vibrate, making the tip vibrate. The tips are larger than Piezo tips & are more difficult to manufacture, so there aren't as many tip designs on the market. Only the tip inserts are autoclavable, not the handpiece, because it is permanently attached to the unit. The limits of sterilization & tip selection make the magnetostrictive scaler not a good choice for oral surgery or other procedures beyond hygiene or perio.

  • I am trying to figure out what is best for my dental practice. Are my PAC lights obsolete to LED's? Should I upgrade to LED lights?

    You need to use the lights that are best for the materials are curing. PAC lights are certainly outdated technology and don't provide the same benefits as LED lights. Talking to the manufacturer of the material you use will help you decide on the type of light to use. LED lights run cooler and brighter than regular halogen curing bulbs. The higher the intensity bulbs will typically yield a faster cure, but too much can lead to shrinking. LED's tend to put out lower heat, so they usually yield better results when curing restorations and are less likely to traumatize the pulp, but that doesn't make them the best for all circumstances.

  • I've noticed a few things around the office that need maintenance regularly. I have trouble with my ultrasonic filters needing replacement often. What should I be doing on a regular basis?

    We've had a number of monthly practice tip newsletters dedicated to routine maintenance. Practice Tips #34 is a comprehensive list of maintenance to perform on equipment throughout the office & Practice Tip #80 includes routine maintenance, along with other simple things you can do to keep all of your equipment running well. As for your filters, maintenance on filters in general is discussed in Practice Tips #60.

  • Is there an ultrasonic scaler that I can use for endo procedures too?

    Piezo scalers are the only ones that can really be used for both. The brand won't matter, just make sure you purchase the correct scaler tips (ie: EMS-style or Satelec-style) that will fit your needs.

  • This is the second time in four months that my prophy jet is broken. It is expensive to repair. How can it be broken already?

    One possibility is having moisture in the prophy jet unit. When the powder gets moist, it can harden inside and will turn to cement, causing a whole host of issues. You should look at your water and air cross-over (See Practice Tip #50 and Practice Tip #51). Moisture could be getting in when you don't want it to.

  • After using a new brand of cleaning tablets in my ultrasonic cleaner, I noticed my instruments started to corrode and rust. Can I reverse the effect? Are the new tablets causing my instruments to tarnish?

    Are you sure they are corroded and not just stained? Use the eraser method to test the corrosion. If it smooth metal underneath, it was just stained. If the metal is pitted,then it is corrosion. The tablets might not necessarily be the reason for your instruments staining or corrosion. It could be your ultrasonic too. Keep investigating and give us a call if you need more assistance.

  • A patient complained that their teeth are sensitive to the ultrasonic scaler. Is there a way to lessen their sensitivity while scaling?

    Try using a lower power setting for patients with more sensitive teeth. You can also use a newer ultrasonic scaler that has the option of having a water reservoir. Those units will heat the water as it goes through the waterlines, making it more comfortable for the patient.

  • How do I test my ultrasonic to see if it is working properly?

    Suspend a piece of aluminum foil in the tank and turn it on. Due to the oscillation from the ultrasonic waves, the foil will become perforated with tiny holes. Make sure you are changing its solution every day at a minimum. That is one of the biggest issues with ultrasonic cleaners. Also, make sure to rinse everything after you take them out— the solution will bake onto your instruments when it goes into the sterilizer.

  • My new Cavitron 3000 scaler leaks seconds after the pedal is leased and the stream of water coming from the insert diminishes. I have noticed that the water control knob turns a complete 360° multiple times. The seller told me it is normal for it to leak for 3 seconds after the pedal is released. Is this true or is there something wrong with my Cavitron?

    It sounds like your water knob is stripped. When you pull the knob off, it should be attached to a brass shaft. Take a pliers and turn the shaft all the way in and put the knob back on. Sometimes the knob can bottom out and hit the front of the unit case before it's all the way "Off." Make sure the set screws are tight, so the knob is held in place. The knob isn't the cause for the leak, however. Your solenoid is most likely stuck open. Cavitrons are known for biofilm build-up and affects water flow. We carry an assortment of solenoids for Dentsply systems. See our Practice Tips for more information on water lines and components.