Low Speed Dental Handpiece VS High Speed Dental Handpiece

Low Speed Dental Handpiece VS High Speed Dental Handpiece

May 17,2022

The surgical dental handpiece, also known as  "drill" -- is the essential dental equipment in all dental practice. A wide assortment of dental handpiece parts manufacturers, dental hygienists, oral health specialists, and lab technicians research dental handpiece and accessories to optimize the oral health of patients all around the world.

No matter it is a standard prophy appointment or a comprehensive surgical treatment is being conducted, the surgical dental handpiece is essential. In this guide, we will outline the differences between high speed dental handpiece and slow speed dental handpiece and other types of dental handpieces.

What is Slow Dental Handpiece

A Low (Slow) Speed Handpiece is an air-driven or electric-driven handheld motor, which spins the dental burs. The low speed dental handpiece is designed to handle much more air pressure than high speed handpiece. When air is introduced into the handpiece (via the chair unit foot pedal), the air is forced over the vanes of the rotor (consisting of vanes or blades), which causes it to spin. It is widely used in the removal of caries, refining a cavity preparation, performing prophylaxis, and other endodontic and implant procedures.

What is High Speed Dental Handpiece

High speed dental handpiece is usually an air-driven or electric-driven handheld drill, which always works with surgical dental burs. Typically, it is used for cavity preparation, removal of tooth structure, and margin creation. And the working principle is similar to the slow-speed dental handpiece. The air turns a turbine in the head(front) of the handpiece. The dental handpiece turbine consists of two miniature bearings, an impeller, and a spindle/chuck assembly that holds the dental burs. Then, when the air is introduced into the handpiece via the dental chair foot pedal, the air would over the impeller of the dental handpiece turbine, causing the turbine to spin.

High Speed Dental Handpiece VS Slow Speed Dental Handpiece

Since I have clearly illustrated the definition of the slow speed dental handpiece and high speed dental handpiece. It is time to outline the differences between them. The differences cover three factors.


As their name implies, they have different speeds in the operation. Typically, a dental handpiece low speed at a rate of 5,000 to 40,000 RPMs. Because of the low operating speed, this type of dental handpiece tends to have a longer service life than that of high speed dental handpiece. The high speed dental handpiece operates at a rate of 250,000 to 400,000 RPMs.


Various types of dental surgical dental handpieces are applied to various operations. The low speed dental handpiece is designed for removing soft decay, finishing cavity preparation, polishing, trimming, and prophy work. And the high speed dental handpiece is used for removing tooth tissue at a high operating speed. Therefore, compared with the high speed dental handpiece, the low speed dental handpiece could handle a more delicate job with its slow operating speed, during the operation.

In summary

The high speed one is typically used for preparing teeth while low-speed ones are more appropriate when finishing and polishing restorations.

Other Types of Dental Handpiece

Except for these two dental handpieces, there are other commonly used dental handpiece for dental surgery.

Endodontic Handpiece

This dental handpiece is specially designed for cleaning and shaping canals during root canal treatments. With the endodontic apex locator and endodontic motor, they are capable of driving endodontic files with precision, regardless of the rotating methods.

Implant Dental Handpiece

The implant dental handpiece is specially designed for oral and maxillofacial surgery. The implant dental handpiece is made of good quality stainless steel and covered with a special coating. Because of it, the implant dental handpiece is highly robust. It generally works with the dental implant burs to complete the surgery.


All in all, there are some differences between low speed dental handpieces and high speed dental handpieces, but they are still similar in their working principle. Like other dental handpieces, they play an important role in oral surgery. And most dental equipment suppliers try to research the best dental handpiece for making a contribution to dental surgery.