Comparison of crown fit and operator preferences between tooth preparation with electric and air-turbine handpieces

The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry

Available online 7 February 2020

The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry


Statement of problem

Tooth preparations for ceramic crowns require precision and accuracy, which may be influenced by the choice of dental handpiece. However, comparisons of the accuracy of tooth preparations made with traditional air-turbine handpieces and electric handpieces are lacking.


The purpose of this in vitro study was to evaluate operator preferences and tooth preparation performance by using electric and air-turbine handpieces with self-reported preferences, sound levels, surface roughness, and the fit of the crown produced.

Material and methods

Twenty dentists were asked to use the air-turbine or the electric handpiece. Feedback on the noise, weight, feel of grip, flexibility, and tooth preparation in general was scored according to a visual analog scale (VAS). Additionally, the dentists were asked to complete a questionnaire on their handpiece preference. The noise of the 2 handpieces was measured by using a precision sound level meter. The surface roughness of 10 teeth was measured by using a profilometer. The other 18 teeth were prepared to measure the marginal and internal fit of ceramic crowns by the replica technique. The VAS scores of operator preferences were analyzed with the Wilcoxon signed ranks test. Decibel levels were analyzed with the Mann-Whitney U test. The McNemar test was used to compare the ratio of preferred handpiece. The surface roughness and marginal and internal fit were analyzed with the independent t test to determine significant differences (all α=.05).


The electric handpiece was heavier, had a poorer grip feel, was less flexible (P<.001), produced lower noise and better feeling of the tooth preparation in general (P<.001), and was preferred in the finishing stage for its greater smoothness (P<.05). The noise produced by the electric handpiece was lower during both idling and tooth preparation at 15-cm, 30-cm, and 45-cm distances (P<.01). The electric handpiece produced surface roughness values (Sa) similar to those of the air-turbine handpiece (P>.05). No significant differences were noted for the marginal and internal crown fit between the air-turbine handpiece and electric handpiece groups (P>.05).


Despite its heavier weight, poorer grip feel, and less flexibility, the electric handpiece emitted lower noise, produced better feeling of the tooth preparation in general, and was preferred in the finishing step of tooth preparation for its greater smoothness than the air-turbine handpiece. The surface roughness of the prepared teeth and the crown fit between the tooth and ceramic crown were not affected by the air-turbine or electric handpiece.
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