Relationships between tissue properties and operational parameters of a dental handpiece during simulated cavity preparation

Hongyan Sun, Andrew Lau, Young C. Heo, Lianshan Lin, Ralph DeLong, Alex Fok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A preliminary study was conducted on the development of an intelligent dental handpiece with functionality to detect subtle changes in mechanical properties of tooth tissue during milling. Such equipment would be able to adopt changes in cutting parameters and make real-time measurements to avoid tooth tissue damage caused by overexertion and overextension of the cutting tool. A modified dental handpiece, instrumented with strain gauges, microphone, displacement sensor, and air pressure sensor, was mounted to a linear movement table and used to mill three to four cavities in >50 bovine teeth. Extracted sound frequency and density were analyzed along with force, air pressure, and displacement for correlations and trends. Experimental results showed a high correlation (coefficient close to 0.7) between the feed force, the rotational frequency, and the averaged gray scale. These results could form the basis of a feedback control system to improve the safety of dental cutting procedures. This article is written in memory of Dr Hongyan Sun, who passed away in 2011 at a young age of 37.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Dental Biomechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics, University of Minnesota. Dr Hongyan Sun was awarded the State Scholarship Fund by the China Scholarship Council of the P.R. China to pursue research in the United States. The China Scholarship Council has had no involvement in the design, acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of this study.


  • Cavity preparation
  • Correlation coefficient
  • Dental handpiece
  • Feed force
  • Rotational frequency


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