Purchasing Guide: Slow Speed Handpiece


Purchasing Guide Slow Speed Handpiece

Understanding Slow Speed Dental Handpieces

As a dental professional, having the right tools is crucial for delivering quality care to your patients. Among these essential tools is the slow speed dental handpiece – a precision instrument operating at lower speeds compared to its high-speed counterpart. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the world of slow speed handpieces, their significance, key considerations when purchasing, and how to choose the ideal one for your practice.

Slow speed handpieces typically operate between 5,000 to 40,000 RPM, while high speeds run over 300,000 RPM. Their reduced speeds allow for greater control and higher torque during intricate procedures like caries removal, cavity preparation, polishing, trimming, and endodontic/implant work.

Unlike high speeds that require water coolant, slow speeds generally have a longer lifespan due to reduced strain on components and minimal heat generation, negating the need for water cooling.

Why Slow Speed Handpieces Matter

Slow speed handpieces play a vital role in various dental procedures, making them an indispensable part of your armamentarium. Their lower operating speeds and higher torque make them ideal for procedures requiring precision and control, such as:

  • Caries removal
  • Cavity preparation
  • Polishing and prophylaxis
  • Trimming and adjusting prosthetics
  • Endodontic procedures like root canal treatment
  • Implant surgeries and bone preparation

With their versatility and precision, slow speed handpieces contribute directly to the quality of care you provide to your patients. Investing in the right slow speed handpiece can enhance your efficiency, ergonomics, and overall patient satisfaction.

Key Considerations When Purchasing

When it comes to purchasing a slow speed dental handpiece, several factors should be evaluated to ensure you make an informed decision that aligns with your practice’s needs and preferences.

Type of Propulsion

Slow speed handpieces can be air-driven or electric:

  • Air-driven: Powered by compressed air, lighter weight, but louder operation.
  • Electric: More torque and precise speed control, quieter, but heavier and costlier.


Slow speeds use different attachments for various procedures:

  • Contra-angles: Angled attachments allow access to hard-to-reach intraoral areas for procedures like caries removal.
  • Straight attachments: Used for extraoral procedures like trimming prosthetics.
  • Prophy angles: For polishing and cleaning teeth during prophylaxis.

Speed and Torque

Match the speed and torque to your needs. Higher torque at lower speeds is ideal for high-torque procedures like implant work.


Consider the weight, head size, grip design for comfort during extended use. Lightweight handpieces reduce hand fatigue.

Noise and Vibration

Electric handpieces operate much quieter (<40 dBA) compared to air-driven models which can exceed 65 dBA. Lower vibration improves patient comfort.


Ensure the new handpiece is compatible with your existing dental unit tubing and connections to avoid costly replacements.

Budget and Value

While cost is important, prioritize value and longevity. Quality handpieces may be more expensive upfront but can reduce long-term repair/replacement costs.

Top Brands and Models

Some leading brands for slow speed handpieces include:

  • KaVo (e.g. INTRAmatic series)
  • DentalEZ (e.g. Titan 3)
  • Dentsply Sirona (e.g. Midwest)
  • NSK
  • Cicada Medical
  • Bien-Air
  • SciCan (e.g. STATIS)

Purchasing Workflow

  1. Determine your speed, torque, and attachment needs based on procedures performed.
  2. Decide between air-driven or electric based on your preferences for power, noise, cost etc.
  3. Research reputable brands that meet your technical requirements.
  4. Compare ergonomics, compatibility, warranty, and after-sales service.
  5. Request demos or trials from top choices to ensure comfort and fit your workflow.
  6. Make your selection prioritizing long-term value over upfront cost.

Investing in a quality slow speed handpiece system can enhance efficiency, ergonomics, and patient satisfaction in your practice. Consider your specific needs and research thoroughly to make an informed purchasing decision.

Maintenance and Longevity

To ensure your slow speed handpiece delivers optimal performance over its lifespan, proper maintenance is crucial. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for lubrication, sterilization, and regular servicing.

Quality handpieces constructed from durable materials like stainless steel or titanium offer increased resistance to corrosion and wear, contributing to their longevity. Additionally, some models feature lube-free designs, reducing maintenance requirements.

Regular professional maintenance conducted every 6-12 months can help identify potential issues and extend the lifespan of your slow speed handpiece.

Ergonomics and Comfort

Since dental procedures can be lengthy, choosing a handpiece that feels comfortable and reduces strain on the dentist’s hand and wrist is essential. Factors like weight, balance, grip design, and head size all contribute to the overall ergonomics and comfort of the handpiece.

Lightweight handpieces with textured grips and compact head sizes can minimize hand fatigue and improve visibility and access during procedures. Prioritizing ergonomics can help prevent repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) and enhance your overall efficiency.

Patient Experience

In addition to practitioner comfort, patient experience should also be a consideration when selecting a slow speed handpiece. Noise and vibration levels can significantly impact patient comfort and anxiety levels during dental procedures.

Electric handpieces generally operate at lower noise levels (<40 dBA) compared to air-driven models, which can exceed 65 dBA. Lower vibration levels also contribute to a more pleasant experience for patients, reducing discomfort and anxiety.

By prioritizing patient comfort through quieter and smoother handpiece operation, you can create a more positive and relaxed environment, ultimately improving the overall quality of care.


Investing in the right slow speed dental handpiece is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your practice’s efficiency, patient satisfaction, and overall success. By considering factors such as propulsion type, attachments, speed and torque, ergonomics, noise and vibration levels, compatibility, budget, and value, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your specific needs and preferences.

Remember, a quality slow speed handpiece is an investment in your practice’s long-term success. Prioritize value, longevity, and after-sales support to ensure you get the most out of your purchase. With the right slow speed handpiece in your armamentarium, you can elevate the quality of care you provide and enhance the overall experience for both you and your patients.

What should I consider when choosing between an air-driven and an electric slow speed handpiece?

When choosing between an air-driven and an electric slow speed handpiece, consider the weight and comfort for prolonged use (air-driven are typically lighter), the noise level during operation (electric are usually quieter), the consistency of torque and cutting power (electric offer steadier torque), and your budget (air-driven are generally more cost-effective). Brands like NSK, Kavo, and Midwest offer various models to suit different needs.

How often do slow speed handpieces need maintenance, and what does it involve?

Slow speed handpieces should undergo professional maintenance every 6–12 months. Maintenance typically involves cleaning, lubricating, and replacing worn parts like O-rings and bearings. Some models, like the NSK slow speed handpiece, may have specific maintenance guidelines, so always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Can I use the same burs for both high-speed and slow-speed handpieces?

No, high-speed and slow-speed handpieces generally require different burs due to the variance in RPM and torque. Slow speed handpiece burs are designed to withstand different pressures and speeds, so using the correct type is crucial for effective and safe dental procedures.

What is the typical lifespan of a slow speed handpiece, and how does it compare to high-speed models?

The lifespan of a slow speed handpiece can vary based on the frequency of use and adherence to maintenance schedules. Slow speed handpieces often have a longer lifespan than high-speed models due to their lower operating speeds and robust design. With proper care, a slow speed handpiece can last for several years.

Are there financing options available for purchasing slow speed handpieces?

Yes, many suppliers offer financing options for purchasing slow speed handpieces. This can include payment plans or leasing options, making it easier for dental practices to acquire quality equipment without a significant upfront investment. Providers like Henry Schein and Patterson Dental often provide such financial services.

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