Dental handpiece decontamination with Aura Infection Control


Take a look at the history, modernisation and challenges of dental handpiece decontamination with Aura Infection Control.

Cleaning and disinfection of dental handpieces have become increasingly crucial in the realm of restorative dental surgery. These indispensable tools, ranging from air turbine-driven to electric motor-powered drills, have evolved significantly since their inception during Victorian times.  

Today, they can achieve staggering speeds, with some variable torque air-driven turbines spinning at up to 400,000 revolutions per minute, facilitating the rapid removal of enamel and tissue in cavity preparation. 

However, the modernisation of dental handpieces with intricate passageways and precision-engineered turbines presents a formidable decontamination challenge.  

Primary challenges

Laura Edgar, the managing director of Aura Infection Control, underscores the complexity: ‘Naturally dental handpieces are required to be sterilised between patient use, but they are among the most difficult pieces of dental equipment to decontaminate.’

One of the primary challenges arises from the potential contamination of cooling waterways. Residual blood and saliva, suctioned back into the handpiece after use, can contaminate these pathways.  

If not meticulously cleaned, the next use of the turbine could transfer these contaminants to the subsequent patient. Additionally, the need for handpiece dismantling for oiling and inspection poses a health risk to dental staff if the equipment is not adequately cleaned. 

A recent survey has brought to light a significant gap in knowledge regarding effective handpiece maintenance. Alarmingly, half of the surveyed dental practices have never undergone handpiece maintenance training, despite the availability of such training.  


Laura Edgar notes a positive shift: ‘Things are improving. There has been a huge increase in demand for our ECPD training on handpiece maintenance.’

Fiona Ellwood, president and executive director of the Society of British Dental Nurses, emphasises the importance of structured training for all team members, incorporating it into induction and continued education. She adds, ‘It should be part of core learning and part of ECPD.’

Laura continues, highlighting the deceptive nature of handpieces: ‘A handpiece can look spotless on the outside and operate perfectly – but hollow instruments with narrow internal lumens require meticulous decontamination as well as rigorous maintenance. How can you be sure that a handpiece is clean inside and out? It can be sterilised, but it still might not be clean.’

To address this critical issue, Aura recommends the Alpro WL series for cleaning and disinfecting single and contra-angle handpieces and turbines.  

Alpro, a trusted name in the infection control sector, offers a comprehensive system comprising WL Clean, WL Cid, and WL Dry. Used together, these products ensure thorough cleaning and disinfection, complying with the highest standards (EN ISO 15883) and approved by multiple manufacturers. 

The WL Clean solution is designed for the inner cleaning of medical and dental hollow part instruments, such as handpieces and turbines, boasting bacteriostatic and fungistatic properties. WL Cid, used for inner disinfection, includes a range of antimicrobial agents effective against various viruses, ensuring patient safety. Lastly, WL Dry serves as a medically safe inert drying spray, removing residues of cleaning and disinfection agents. 

Missing ingredient

Laura emphasises: ‘Alpro products are recommended by handpiece manufacturers because of their quality and reliability. It’s the best product of its type that we have seen.  

‘What’s more, it isn’t a complex process, and it can be easily added to an existing disinfection process with the minimum disruption. It’s the missing ingredient in the processing of dental handpieces.’

The survey’s findings underscore a significant demand for more information on handpiece cleaning, maintenance, and protocols. Nearly two-thirds of respondents expressed their desire for more knowledge, reflecting the dedication of dental professionals to patient health and safety.  

As awareness grows regarding the potential risks associated with internal handpiece lumens, professionals are eager to equip themselves with the necessary knowledge to address these concerns effectively. 

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