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Dental Handpiece Lubrication: Why It's Important and How to Do It


Dental Handpiece Lubrication: Why It's Important and How to Do It

The dental handpiece is the cornerstone of dentistry, allowing dentists to perform a wide range of treatments with precision and efficiency. Maintaining the proper lubrication of handpieces that require it is a key part of keeping them running seamlessly for many years.

This article covers the key differences between lubricated and LubeFree handpieces, along with a step-by-step guide to correct lubrication.

While the general procedures for lubrication are similar for all lubricated handpieces, be sure to consult the Information for Use (IFU) for model-specific lubrication and maintenance instructions.


Understanding the Vital Role of Dental Handpiece Lubrication

When you invest in a high-quality dental handpiece, you’ll want to maintain it at its highest level of performance for as many years as possible. For handpieces that require it, proper lubrication is vital to peak functioning and reducing equipment downtime. Having a good lubrication system in place helps keep friction, heat, and wear away from the internal components of your handpieces. A well-oiled lubricated handpiece has a smoother sound, provides less vibration in the patient’s mouth, performs more efficiently, and lasts longer than improperly lubricated instruments.

Having smooth and efficient handpieces also makes the patient care experience better, helping your practice maintain its great reputation.

Dentists who perform meticulous lubrication and other proper maintenance techniques can benefit from top-performing handpieces for years--and even decades!


Exploring Lubricated and Non-Lubricated Products

Before planning your practice’s system for handpiece lubrication, it’s important to distinguish between lubricated and LubeFree handpieces. When selecting handpieces for your office, the choice of lubricated versus LubeFree instruments is an important one.

LubeFree Handpieces for Simplicity of Maintenance and Cost Savings

Practices with years of experience maintaining lubricated handpieces know that expenditures on lubrication products can add up year-over-year. If you purchase LubeFree handpieces, your office will save money on lubrication products over the lifespan of your equipment. In addition, your staff will save the time needed for the lubrication step after each patient use.

When purchasing LubeFree handpieces, it’s important to remember that if a LubeFree handpiece is lubricated even once, it will need to be lubricated after every use for the remainder of its lifespan.

Lubricated Handpieces for Longer Warranty Period

Lubricated handpieces require meticulous lubrication after each use to maintain their performance. These products come with a longer warranty than LubeFree products: two years versus one year for LubeFree handpieces.

When deciding between LubeFree and lubricated handpieces for your office, consider the procedures you’d like to have in place for all employees in your practice who will be working with handpieces. If you purchase a variety of lubricated and LubeFree handpieces, will it be simple for all staff members to distinguish between the two types and avoid lubricating LubeFree instruments? Having clear protocols in place is a must for practices that use both types of handpieces.


The How-To Guide for Effective Dental Handpiece Lubrication

As with all equipment maintenance steps, it is vitally important to implement a consistent system so that all your team members understand the procedures to keep each instrument in its top working condition. For handpieces, having one source for all maintenance information can be extremely helpful. The Star Handpiece Logbook will help you keep all information on each handpiece in one place for your practice.

Choose the Best Lubricant

When planning your practice’s lubrication system, it is crucial to select only the highest quality lubricant. We recommend Star DentaLube II for all lubricated handpieces. It is the advanced handpiece lubricant to keep all lubricated handpieces running at peak performance for their entire lifespan.

Follow the Proper Lubrication Steps

If your practice uses lubricated handpieces, follow these steps for effective lubrication after each use. These instructions are part of the Star Handpiece Logbook our general guide below can help you avoid some of the common pitfalls associated with handpiece lubrication and other maintenance steps.

For product-specific information, always consult your manufacturer’s Instructions for Use (IFU).

Handpieces with DentaLube lubrication


  • These instructions are for lubricated handpieces only! If you lubricate a LubeFree handpiece once, it will require lubrication going forward.
  • Lubricate handpiece daily with DentaLube II, StarDental Part (262539), and prior to each sterilization procedure.
  • For maximum turbine life do not exceed recommended pressure.
  1. Disconnect handpiece.
  2. Assemble the conical red tip applicator, StarDental Part (202954), into the DentaLube II bottle cap.
  3. Find drive air tube at rear of handpiece and place three drops of DentaLube II. Remember to apply enough lubricant to your handpiece, only 3 drops of DentaLube II are needed! Your chuck needs separate care, using Junk-Out Chuck Cleaner (263790) once a week prior to sterilization will help ensure the optimum working condition of the chuck.
  4. With bur in place connect handpiece to tubing, operate for 20 seconds to expel excess lubricant. Never operate handpiece without bur in place!


Maintenance Beyond Lubrication

Beyond proper lubrication techniques, it’s important to keep up with all the other crucial steps of handpiece maintenance to uphold optimal performance for years to come. Adhering to our guidelines for cleaning, sterilization, and turbine replacement can help you extend the life of your valuable handpieces.

Proper Cleaning

Remember to wipe down your handpieces with isopropyl alcohol ONLY, not antiseptic wipes like CaviCide. These products can break down the internal components of your handpiece and shorten their lifespan.

Handpiece Sterilization

Proper handpiece sterilization is vital for the safety of your patients and staff. Handpieces must be heat sterilized between patients. Be sure to follow all manufacturer’s recommendations for each handpiece model, and consult the ADA’s guidance for instrument and equipment sterilization.

Turbine Replacement

When a well-maintained handpiece begins to feel or sound different than it did when it was new, it is probably time to replace the turbine. With Star handpieces, there is no need to send out your handpieces for turbine replacements. You can avoid the pitfalls of lower-quality knockoff turbines by ordering genuine Star turbines and replacing them yourself. It’s an easy process that usually takes less than a minute.

Learn more about the importance of using high-quality turbines in our recent article.


Incorporating Dental Handpiece Lubrication into Your Practice

When things get busy--or when staff turnover is high--it’s possible for details like proper lubrication to fall through the cracks. It’s important to set clear standards for all steps in handpiece maintenance, including good lubrication practices.

Create a sustainable handpiece maintenance routine so that all employees know their roles in keeping instruments working at their peak potential for years to come. Depending on your budget and the needs of your practice, you have several options for setting up a sustainable maintenance and lubrication system:

  • Provide clear signage for staff members, detailing all the maintenance steps for every handpiece in your practice.
  • Take advantage of the DENTALEZ Logbook to track all your handpiece models and their maintenance history.
  • Consider investing in STAR smart handpieces with Aeras Intel. These handpieces have a patent pending RFID tag to track each instrument’s history and status, including sterilization, maintenance, cooling, and locational tracking for theft protection, when used in conjunction with an RFID reader.


Everyone in your office should know exactly which steps to take, from taking the handpiece off the chair after each use, to cleaning, lubrication, sterilization, and replacing it on the chair. With a consistent routine for all maintenance steps, you’ll be able to keep your valuable investments working at their best for years to come.

Consult your sales representative or technician to create a custom systems analysis and help train your employees on preserving the optimal performance of your handpieces.

Do you have questions about setting up your maintenance system, understanding lubrication protocols, or anything else related to handpiece maintenance? Contact us today!

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