Study could save dentists thousands


Helene Chua, a recipient of the Otago Medical Research Foundation’s 2018/19 Summer Research Scholarship, has recently completed research which has featured in regional media and is being peer-reviewed for an international journal.

Helene investigated the cooling efficiency of different numbers of water coolant ports on high-speed handpieces – the ‘drills’ used in dental practices.
Water cooling controls heat from the handpieces’ high-speed bur-tooth interfaces. While the handpieces often have as many as four coolant ports, single-port HSHs are considerably cheaper; a four-coolant-port handpiece costs around $1800, a single-port variety is around $800.
While Helene’s research did demonstrate an increased number of cooling ports led to better cooling, there was no statistically significant difference. That finding could end up being “a step towards making handpieces better and more comfortable” in the future, she says.

Photo: Dr Joanne Choi (left), Associate Professor Neil Waddell and Helene Chua in the University of Otago’s Clinical Services Building, in Dunedin.