Over the years I have emphasized the importance of using sharp scalers and curettes. With sharp instruments you scale and root plane better, you work faster, you are more efficient, and your procedure is more comfortable for you and dental patient care improves.
I’ve talked indirectly about the economic benefit of using sharp instruments. One economic benefit is the fact that you can work faster. You can complete the procedure in less time. It’s the old adage, time is money.
Another economic benefit is less obvious. It is extending the useful life of your instruments by proper sharpening. I believe I can safely say that improper sharpening can easily reduce the useful life of a hand instrument by over 50%.
Let’s look at an average hygiene department of an average dental practice. I’ll put out some numbers. If you don’t agree with them, change them as you see fit.
8 instrument set-ups per hygienist
6 scalers and curettes per set up
In this practice you have 96 scalers and curettes being used at any given time. An average scaler or curette is about $30.00. Let’s assume that a properly cared for hand instrument will last 1 year. An improperly cared for hand instrument will last 6 months.
What’s the meaning of all this?
96 instruments X $30.00 = $2880.00. If you properly sharpen, this is what your practice pays per year for hand instruments. If you don’t care for them properly you will pay $5760.00 per year. This is a significant bottom line difference.
If you factor in the improvement in the patient’s care, it’s amazing what sharp instruments can do for your practice!