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Catapult Education Evaluators give this innovative “3-in- 1,” space-saving electric handpiece system a unanimous “Vote of Confidence”.

NSK Dental, a global leading manufacturer of dental handpieces, asked the Catapult Education Evaluators to evaluate its new NLZ electric handpiece system, which has a control unit with a much smaller footprint, as well as more functions, than currently available electric handpieces.

The first and obvious impression from the evaluators of the new, compact NSK NLZ electric handpiece system, was its diminutive size. As technologies continue to evolve, and dentists eagerly adopt them, fitting new equipment into the already-crowded operatory can present challenges. In addition, with handpieces being the workhorse of restorative dentistry, all of us already use a variety for different procedures, so another question our group sought to answer was does this raise the bar in electrics and warrant adding it to our collections. The consensus among the reviewers was a resounding yes.

A Closer Look at the Features

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Size

The NLZ control pad is the smallest in the industry. Its design also introduces a new installation style: the control pad is separate from the main unit, which can be tucked away, leaving only the control panel visible. While there was not a unanimous consensus on where to put the unit—it can be mounted almost anywhere—many of the evaluators opted to install it under, on, or near the tray. The small profile is a real benefit, especially where space is limited. Installation was extremely simple, and the NLZ touch-screen control panel was easy and intuitive to use.

Noise Level

Dentists all love the trend toward dental equipment being less noisy and intrusive. Ninety percent of the evaluators noted that the NSK handpiece is quieter than other handpieces. I found the NLZ to be significantly quieter than any other system I’ve used to date. While another benefit of the NLZ’s design is that it accommodates several other manufacturers’ handpieces, I found that when I connected a handpiece from a different manufacturer it was noticeably louder than the NSK handpiece. Considering the fact that patients hate the sound of dental drills, it follows that less noisy “drilling” would result in a much less negative experience. Additionally, it has been documented that hearing loss is becoming a problem among dentists, so it may be that using quieter handpieces will have a positive effect on this ongoing problem, perhaps even eliminating the necessity to wear ear plugs as some dentists do when using air-driven turbines. The lower noise level is a win-win for both patients and dentists.

Versatility

Another feature of the NLZ system is its versatility. NSK takes electrics to the next level with the NLZ because the unit has the ability to run a high-speed electric for doing preparations, switch to a slow speed for all its various uses, and with the press of a button, switch to a reciprocative movement that accommodates a wide range of endodontic procedures. A number of endodontic handpiece systems are incorporating reciprocative movement, and the reviewers thought this feature provided extra flexibility by enabling three of dentistry’s most used preparation technologies to be run by one control pad, thus combining previously disparate tools and eliminating some redundancy.

What makes the NLZ unique is a new micro-motor system. This provides a more powerful rotation, enabling better cutting of today’s harder restorative materials (ie, e.max and zirconia). It is difficult, if not impossible to cut through some of these materials with an air-driven bur. Electrics have greater torque and cut through all-ceramic and zirconia crowns with much less effort. I found the NLZ to have more torque than other electrics I’ve used. In addition, pushing through today’s harder materials takes a toll on air driven turbines that electrics are not susceptible to—in fact, it’s a non- issue. The NLZ’s 2-year, full warranty is an extra bonus.

Another feature all reviewers appreciated was the extreme brightness of the fiber optics. The NLZ’s fiber optic light provides greater illumination of the field, making it easier to see when working in the posterior region of the mouth. I think that makes a huge difference in delivery of care. Who wouldn’t appreciate more illumination? You can never have too much light! This fiber optic light is the brightest I have evaluated.

The NLZ also has a “contra angle checking” function, which was developed to prevent the handpiece head from overheating and potentially burning the patient. Overheating can be caused due to deterioration of the gears and/or improper maintenance, and the operator is usually not aware that this is occurring until it is too late. This “smart” handpiece recalibrates itself and corrects the torque if it is getting too hot during operation. The rotor either automatically slows down or completely shuts off. I have experienced this only twice during use so far, and think this function is a terrific safety feature.

All of the reviewers involved in this evaluation were electric handpiece users and loved the NLZ handpiece. That’s saying a lot, considering our collective practice experience. One evaluator commented that the NLZ and NSK handpiece would become their “go to” tool, and another said, “This is the best electric handpiece I have ever used!” All reviewers felt extremely confident in using the new NLZ system in their practices, and almost everyone stated they would continue to use it. The combination of its innovative features, from space-saving to versatility to proficient cutting, is why the NLZ received the Catapult “Vote of Confidence.”