Dental Handpiece Repair Using Ceramic Bearings


Now that ceramic bearings have been around a few years I would like to share some observations about their maintenance.

Initially ceramic bearings were sold to the Dental Handpiece Manufacturer repair technician as not needing any lubrication because they are pre lubricated and sealed. Because of this we were selling them to you as no lube bearings.

They do last longer than the stainless steel bearings used in the past. However most sealed ceramic bearings that I see in my repairs are lasting between one to six months.

Example: I have one client that does not lube their hand pieces. With stainless steel bearings their repair would last about four to six weeks. After converting them to ceramic bearings their service rate has increased to six to seven months. However this can vary greatly depending on brand and usage.

I have another client that also does not lube their hand pieces. Probably because the brand of hand piece was sold to them as a no lube hand piece. Using ABEC7 rated ceramic bearings in their repair they get about six weeks service. This is a terrible amount of time with a very good bearing.

Note: The ABEC7 rated bearing is considered a high quality replacement bearing for dental use.

Consider lubricating your ceramic no lube bearings.

I have several clients who lubricate their drills before and after sterilizing.

These clients are getting much more time between rebuilds using the same bearings and the same drills. The best procedure seems to be to put three or four drops of hand piece oil in the air hole and one or two drops in the chuck. Then run the hand piece until all oil is expelled. Next sterilize and then lube it again before storage.

This is just a bit more work but if you can cut your rebuild expenses in half it is well worth it. I am recommending this procedure to all of my clients.

I have some thoughts about why. Inspecting the bearings that are failing prematurely, I am finding the seal on the bearing is warped slightly allowing the lube to be released. The “O” ring in the head of the hand piece is hard and sometimes allowing air to leak through. Is it likely that the air pressure is being adjusted to compensate for a bad “O” ring in the hand piece.

If so this would explain the why the bearings sheared off at the inner race after only six weeks. Air pressure should be 32 PSI any higher will destroy the bearings.

Lubricating the hand piece as described above will keep the “O” rings pliable and support the correct air seal. Also the drills that use clips and washers will stay cleaner. The chuck and impeller will run smoother causing less stress on the bearings. Also if the seal still warps the lube can get to the bearings extending their life.

This question was posed to me. “Why did the drill last over a year when it was new and the rebuild does not?” Good question.

The answer is, If you go to the manufacturer and purchase the original turbine you will pay dearly for it. This is because the original bearings are of superior quality and are manufactured to the manufacturers specifications.

The bearings that the manufacturer uses are made by the same companies that we purchase from. However the manufacturer has rights to the specific bearings they use so they can be supplied to you at a higher cost. The after market bearings are also high quality but are less expensive so a rebuild is affordable.


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