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What Is a Dental Engine?

For many of us, all the thought and effort that went into developing the modern dental chair is greatly appreciated. Our dental chairs are comfortable and versatile, helping to make your visit to the dentist the best it can be! At the Yuba City Dental Group, we want your visit to be relaxed and as enjoyable as possible. One part of your experience is another vital component for the modern practice of dentistry — the dental engine.

“Dental engine” is a vague label, however, as some use it to describe the motor that powers the drill, while others say the term also defines a combination of all the electric, pneumatic, and other tools that help a dentist properly do their job. Sometimes this dental engine is more like a toolbox, either attached to the chair or maneuverable from one place to another. Sometimes the dental engine is networked from a special room to service many chairs at once.

But that’s enough about words, definitions and semantics! Let’s focus on the development of the dental drill and the engine that improved right alongside it.

History of the Dental Drill

Thousands of years ago, Indus Valley civilizations used bead-making tools — basically bow drills — for dental operations. Later, small drills and burs were twirled between the fingers. From these simple tools, dentists moved up to hand-cranked drill bits until the middle 1800’s. It wasn’t until 1790 that a dentist named John Greenwood (George Washington’s dentist) designed a dental drill with an engine powering it, inspired by a foot-powered spinning wheel. Although Greenwood used it for working on dentures, improvements on the idea continued throughout the 19th Century, as it was adapted for use with living teeth, including clockwork and pneumatic drills. In 1875, George F. Green patented the first electric dental drill.

Throughout the 20th century, many variations followed, using an electric motor to power hand-held turbines. Some turbines used air, water, or belts to turn the dental drill. Refinements in size, weight, and speed followed when micromotors were marketed around 1965. Since that time, less efficient versions have fallen away so that most offices are equipped with either air-driven or electric drills, with different advantages from using both.

It’s Not Just About Drills

Of course, dental drills are not the only tools used by your dentist at the Yuba City Dentistry Group. Over the years, other tools were incorporated into dental engines: suction devices, high-powered lighting, ultrasonic tools, a small sink station, water jets, and drawers to keep non-powered tools within reach. Current models provide computer monitors, so the dentist can display x-rays, photographic images or real-time video of the procedure. The versatility of the dental engine keeps improving!

As technology and innovation continue, we look forward to seeing how dental drills and the dental engine improve. Yet, rest assured that the tools at the Yuba City Dentistry Group are more than enough to provide you with excellent oral care. Would you like to see what our dental engines can do? The best way to find out is to come on in for a checkup and ask some questions! Give us a call or schedule an appointment online. Let’s get our dental engines working for your benefit!


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Great dentistry! Staff is very nice and I had a great experience. Dr Cheema is one of the best in Yuba. I would definitely recommend coming here ! They took...