Motion in Dental Applications

The dental market is growing. An aging population and greater demands for cosmetic dentistry are some of the factors driving this growth.

The motion needs of the dental industry vary with applications ranging from the movement of dental chairs and dental CNC machines for milling implants to dental radiology and not forgetting “everyone’s favorite” dental drill. Miniature motors are a key component to the latter.

For decades, dentists have used multipurpose dental drills powered by air motors, as these are relatively simple and easy to drive. This technology was a good option, especially thanks to its lightweight and high-speed capability. However, when using air motors, it is difficult to control accurately the speed of the drill. The torque is also low and inconsistent. These have a direct impact on both the user experience and the final result for the dental practitioner and the patient alike.

Dental drill manufacturers are now offering innovative solutions driven by electrical motors allowing greater control over speed, torque, and motion to name just a few parameters. Electrical motors can nowadays deliver more power from a smaller package, and hence this makes them ideal for the dental hand tools market. For example, Brushless DC motors can run up to 100,000 RPM, and they can accurately set the speed using hall sensors or encoders. By measuring the current draw, the torque can also be precisely controlled.

The high-pitched noise of air-driven dental drills has single-handedly instilled fear in the toughest amongst us for generations. Electrically driven dental drills run much quieter and have lower vibration levels and, as a result, contribute to making the patient more at ease during their treatment.  

As with many day-to-day devices and tools, there is also a trend for dental hand tools to go cordless. With both batteries and motors having reached a certain level of maturity in their designs, they combine perfectly to allow dental hand tool OEMs the possibility to create sleek and lightweight products. This allows for better manipulation, control, and ergonomics for the dental practitioner leading to better results and greater patient satisfaction.

Today, the three typical cordless dental hand tools are the:

  1. Rotary endodontic drill used for root canal treatments. With additional features like reciprocating motion, the device can drill and file easily through the infected roots and nerves.
  2. Root canal obturator used to dispense permanent filling material into the dental canal at the end of endodontic surgery.
  3. Prosthodontic screwdriver used with precise torque control to drive dental implants during surgery.

The two main types of motor technology ideal for these tools are:

  • Slotless Brushless DC motors that provide a high-power density solution, allowing engineers to minimize the size and weight of the devices
  • Coreless Brush DC motors that provide high efficiency resulting in a perfect fit for a battery-powered solution, i.e. usage over a long period on a single charge.

Portescap is a leading designer and manufacturer of miniature motors for dental and medical applications. We work in close collaboration with our customers, co-creating tailor-made solutions leading to innovative and game-changing products.