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Dental drills: 9,000 years in the making

Dental drills: 9,000 years in the making

Did you know that your dental drill, the one you probably used just yesterday, has a heritage of around 9,000 years?

In 2006, archaeologists in Pakistan discovered a number of teeth dating back to around 7,000 BC which exhibited distinct signs of drilling. It is thought that expert craftsmen used specifically adapted bow drills to core out infection and decay in their fellows’ teeth.[1]

The real innovations, however, started much more recently. In 1864, a British dentist called George Fellows Harrington invented a clockwork-powered dental drill called the Erado (from the Latin: I scrape out). This drill was significantly faster than previous drills but was insufferably noisy and, presumably, required winding up regularly. Nevertheless, it was the first example of a mechanised dental handpiece that allowed for continuous rotation and would prove to be the progenitor of many subsequent innovations.

The first of which appeared just four years later in 1868, when American dentist George F. Green patented a pneumatic dental drill powered by a pedal-operated bellows. This was closely followed by the 1871 pedal-powered drill from James B. Morrison.

Green then developed and patented the first ever electric dental drill in 1875, which represented a true revolution in the profession. Not only could an electric drill reach high speeds, it could maintain them indefinitely. For the first time this allowed for continuous treatment and it lay the foundation for the modern working technique that the majority of dental professionals have adopted today.

By 1914, electric dental drills could reach speeds of up to 3,000 rpm – and this was doubled by the 1950s when the first air turbine drills were introduced into practices.[2]

This new design, driven by compressed air, was first created by a New Zealander called John Patrick Walsh who began developing on the idea after working with a commercial-use air grinder. It didn’t take long for air turbine drills to gain popularity around the world and several different manufacturers in the US and Britain began shipping their own models by the end of the 1960s.[3]

And the same basic design is still very much in use today – albeit, modern handpieces operate at distinctly higher speeds, up to approximately 400,000 rpm. They have also been designed to increase usability and ergonomic appeal and are made from more reliable materials to ensure the highest levels of comfort and safety. Indeed, they are the real mainstay of a dental surgery and are indispensible to practitioners on a day-to-day basis.

Which is why it is so important that dental drills are effectively maintained. Since they play such an integral part in general everyday dentistry, any malfunctions can cause delays and cost money – not to mention the risk they can cause to a patient’s safety. Should a dental drill break inside a patient’s mouth, the damage caused could be catastrophic.

Therefore, it is imperative to find and work with an exemplary repair and maintenance service that you can trust to quickly and reliably fix your handpieces in the event something should go wrong. Quintess Denta can provide that service – and much more, including offering helpful maintenance and money-saving tips. What’s more, they work with every brand on the UK market and always ensure that nothing but the highest quality components are used for repairs.


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[1] BBC: Stone Age man used dental drill; published online: 06/04/2015; link: [accessed 19/11/15]

[2] BDA: Clockwork drill and dental engine; published online: 07/06/2013; link: [accessed 19/11/15]

[3] Medical Discoveries: Dental drill; link: [accessed 19/11/15]




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Ensure superior quality - Stephen Wilson

Ensure superior quality - Stephen Wilson

Modern dental drills operate at approximately 400,000 rpm; with diamond-tipped burrs, they are used for precision work, in close proximity to patient’s teeth and the soft tissues of the oral cavity. As such, it is vital that a professional is confident in the equipment they are using, since a malfunction has the potential to cause significant injury and disfigurement.

In light of this, therefore, would you consider buying your dental drill from eBay? Hopefully not – but that does not mean others won’t. Last year alone, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) were required to seize 384 dental handpieces that had been bought from internet auctioning sites.[i]

Upon inspection, these products were found to be of dubious quality, often bearing falsified CE classifications and prone to malfunction – even breaking apart during use. Imported mostly from China and Pakistan, these handpieces posed a distinct risk to the patients upon whom they were being used, as well as the professionals who were using them. Furthermore, the penalty for knowingly buying and using counterfeit products is immediate erasure from the GDC register.

Luckily, there were few instances where these counterfeit products caused injury – but that does not mean the risk was any less real and it highlights the need for professionals to be very discerning when it comes to choosing their dental equipment.

The same can be said of maintaining this equipment. Dental handpieces are used on a regular basis and ensuring they are in good condition is vital. Should an older piece malfunction, the results can be disastrous. With consistent maintenance, however, malfunctions can be avoided. Nevertheless, as with ensuring the quality of a new piece, the quality of a repair service must be assessed before investment.

Third parties often manufacture the components of dental handpieces and this increases the risk of subpar parts being fitted in repair. The risks of this are obvious. Without the assurance of quality, these counterfeit parts can fail, causing catastrophic malfunctions in the handpiece. Unfortunately, the majority of these parts will undoubtedly cheaper, pushing down the price of repair work. While this might seem attractive in the short term, the potential risks are unequivocal in the long term.

Thus, it is crucial that dental professionals find a handpiece repair service upon which they can rely to use nothing but the highest quality parts and replacements. Ultimately, this will provide peace of mind and quality assurance. Companies that offer this level of service will undoubtedly work closely with legitimate manufacturers to ensure that the repairs they are conducting are of the highest standard, using quality assured parts.

Quintess Denta is such a company. Using only superior parts, the expert team at Quintess Denta ensure greater durability and performance for your dental handpieces. They work hard to provide a prompt service for your convenience, fully understanding the ramifications of being without a specific handpiece. What’s more, Quintess Denta provides an ongoing support service that allows you to be confident in the quality and reliability of your dental handpieces.


For more information visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 028 6862 8966



[i] The Guardian: Dentists warned of counterfeit equipment following huge haul; published Oct 2014; link:


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Consistent quality - Quintess Denta

Consistent quality - Quintess Data

Your dental handpiece may be one of the most important pieces of equipment in your surgery. Indispensible in general dentistry, specialist treatments and much more, the handpiece is truly one product that the majority of dental practitioners could not live without.

For this reason alone, it is essential that you invest in nothing but the very highest quality pieces. Sub-standard or counterfeit products can result in accident or injury and legal dispute.

The production quality of your handpiece is a pertinent consideration. Knowing where your next product has been made and whether it conforms to CE regulations is vital to ensuring the enduring quality of a handpiece. There has recently been a spate of counterfeit products entering the UK market which presents a particular threat to the overall safety of dental equipment. Far cheaper but less reliable than genuine handpieces, these products can malfunction and injure both patients and practitioners. It is, therefore, vitally important to ensure you know where the product you are considering has been built and by which trusted manufacturer.

Once you have purchased the handpiece that best meets your clinical needs, it is important that you ensure to maintain it adequately. Not only is this prudent for financial reasons, it will also reduce the risk of malfunction. With an operational speed of up to 400,000 rpm, the damage a faulty handpiece can inflict on the soft tissues of the oral cavity can be extensive and irreversible.

But choosing a company to fulfil your maintenance needs can be as difficult as choosing a handpiece in the first place – and there are a number of considerations for which you must account before making any decisions.

·      Firstly, you must be sure that the parts and replacements a repair company is using in your handpieces are of the highest quality from reputable manufacturers.

·      You must also be assured that your handpieces will be returned promptly and reliably: being without your equipment will cause unnecessary delays.

·      Cost-effectiveness is a major factor and finding a balance between price and quality is essential.

By offering exceptional quality and expertise, you can be sure the repair work Quintess Denta undertake will always be of the highest standard – but what sets it apart from the competition is its unwavering focus on customer support and service. What’s more, the team at Quintess Denta are dedicated to providing relevant, money-saving tips that will enable dentists to substantially cut their maintenance costs.



For more information visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us on 028 6862 8966

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