The Dental Engine

What is a dental engine? Is it a locomotive dressed up to look like a tooth? A new character on that Thomas the Tank Engine TV show? Actually, a dental engine is a very common tool used in the dental field. To keep it simple, we define a dental engine as the device that powers our machine-driven dental tools. While today’s dental tools operate with electricity, hydraulics, or pneumatics, in the past they were operated by much simpler means.

A History of the Dental Engine

Thousands of years ago in the Indus Valley, craftsmen used bow drills for making beads. Archaeological finds indicate they eventually used the same bow drills to do dental work. Another common option were small drills twirled between the thumb and index fingers. From these small beginnings, dental professionals developed hand-cranked drills to improve the speed and torque of the device. In the 1790s, John Greenwood designed a dental drill attached to a foot-powered spinning wheel (he was more famous for being George Washington’s dentist). He only used it for working on dentures, but about a century later the same concept was applied to human teeth. Clockwork and pneumatic drills were common when, in 1875, George F. Green patented the first electric dental drill.

When micromotors became available in 1965, developers reduced the size and weight of their various dental engines, and increased the drill speed. Since that time, the dental engine is more streamlined. The current preferences focus on either electric or air-driven drills.

It’s Not Just a Drill

Dental engines are extremely precise and adjustable, with multiple capabilities. For instance, our staff at the Placerville Dental Group uses our dental engines to power suction devices, ultrasonic drills, water jets, lighting, lasers, and more. As technology progresses, we will no doubt see more useful tools added to the ensemble of the dental engine.

Using such a wide variety of tools, the Placerville Dental Group performs whatever service you need to help keep your teeth healthy and clean. Would you like to see all the things our dental engine can do? Just schedule your next semiannual checkup over the phone, or you can use our online form to make an appointment. Let our dental engines apply their power to the benefit of your teeth!


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