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Ultrasonic Scalers; A Brief History

Cavitron Ultrasonics Inc. was the pioneer in the creation of the first ultrasonic dental drill. The generator had energy of 25,000 Hz which exerted the energy from the tool to the tooth. This was the first dental ultrasonic scaler. The tool combined gentleness and control to aid dentists’ in their work. It also decreased the amount of effort for dentists and uncomfortableness for patients.

In late 1952, Life Magazine had an ultrasonic on the cover, introducing people to the concept of using vibrations to cut through objects. Needless to say, the public was enamored with this innovative breakthrough and it sparked a great excitement among dentists’; they wanted to make a drill out of this vibrating contraption. These contraptions -- “dental handpieces” -- were created and 15,000 were sold.

1960's & 70's

In the 60's and 70's its popularity gained, but was still limited in use, to mainly the removal of heavy supragingival deposits. This was due to limited insert tip designs.


During the early days of ultrasonic scalers in the 50's they were used for removal of heavy calculus and extrinsic stains.


In the 80's, with the development of new tips, Ultrasonic Scalers began allowing users to remove deposits below the gum line.

There Are So Many Ultrasonic Scalers To Choose From!

With all of the quality Ultrasonic Scalers on the market, it is difficult to know which to choose and how much you need to spend for a quality product. It is usually a matter of preference and what is most important to each individual in an Ultrasonic Scaler. For example:

Magnetostrictive vs. Piezoelectric:

Magnetostrictive and Piezoelectric Ultrasonic Scalers are the two types of devices seen in dental hygiene practice. Both have been proven to be effective for calculus and stain removal. They also both have a variety of inserts for various needs such as removing heavy deposits, root planing, etc. The differences lie in how the two devices function.

Note: both the Autoscaler and Cavitron are Magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers.


  • Magnetostrictive power scalers operate at an optimal frequency of 20 kHz to 40 kHz

  • In Magnetostrictive scalers, energy is converted to vibrations from the elliptical stroke patterns of the unit's metal rod or stack of metal sheets. All surfaces of the tip are active in the removal of debris

  • All Magnetostrictive inserts are universal regardless of the manufacturer

  • Magnetostrictive handpiece maintains greater infection control as less of it is in direct contact with the patient's mouth

  • Magnetostrictive scalers may not be safe to use with all patients with pacemakers

  • Metal stacks on Magnetostrictive inserts can be easily bent, which could impair vibration and overall function


  • Piezoelectric power scalers operate at a slightly higher optimal frequency of 29 kHz to 50 kHz

  • Piezoelectric scaler strokes occur in a linear pattern via crystals activated by the ceramic handpiece. Only the lateral sides are effective in the removal of debris

  • Small Piezo tips need to be inserted into the handpiece with a special tool and can be misplaced

  • Piezo requires less water to control heat

  • Piezo may be more comfortable for patients with breathing conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

  • Piezo can be used on all patients with pacemakers

  • The Piezoelectric handpiece is wider and therefore more ergonomically designed than the thinner Magnetostrictive one. Since the entire handpiece does not vibrate, there may be greater tactile sensitivity with the Piezo

Are you looking for a simple, solid product that gets the job done?

There are options at all price levels. Extra bells and whistles that result in higher prices on some models include:

  • LED Light

  • Single-Tap foot pedals

  • Portable

  • Self-Tuning

  • Water Source

  • Tips Included/Reusable Tips or Not

  • Ease of Use for Dentist

  • Accessories Included

If you have any questions about whether or not the Autoscaler could be the right fit for your practice, please call us at 201-569-0050 or click below to take The Autoscaler Challenge!

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