According to an article from [removed][/removed], the FDA has warned health care professionals that serious injuries, including third-degree burns, may be associated with the use of poorly maintained electric dental handpieces during dental procedures. The FDA reports that some patients have suffered burns that required plastic surgery and says that the injuries may not be immediately apparent to the operator or the patient until after the tissue damage has occurred, because anesthetized patients cannot feel the tissue burning and the handpiece housing insulates the operator from the heated attachment. Although the reported burns occurred during the cutting of tooth and bone, tooth extraction, and other dental surgical procedures, overheating can also occur during any dental procedure.

The FDA urges health professionals to service and maintain the handpieces in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and to strictly adhere to those instructions for use, maintenance, servicing, and lubrication.

Electric handpieces are designed to maintain bur speed during cutting, but unlike air-turbine handpieces that can bog down or stall when something interferes with the rotation, electric handpieces’ micromotor sends more power to the gears, and friction in the gears and/or the bearing assemblies transfers into heat.

Electric handpieces can become dangerously hot in a matter of seconds, without any warning to the user.

If you experience overheating of an electric handpiece, or have any other adverse experience with any dental equipment or material, contact the FDA’s MedWatch program by phone at (800) 332-1088 or on the Web at