We see a little over 400 patients a month at our office. There are 4 hygienists. How often do you think our instruments will need to be replaced? We rotate 9 packages of instruments. The doctors complain that we ask for replacements too often.
You ask a good question that does not have an exact answer. Instrument replacement is based on sharpening frequency and sharpening frequency is based on use. The research studies indicate that it takes approximately 15 scaling strokes to observe a slight rounding of the cutting edge and 45 strokes to observe a profound rounding. Ideally instruments should be sharpened at the first sign of dullness to maintain longevity of the instrument. So if all of your patients require some degree of scaling chances are you would be sharpening after every patient. Sharpening at the first sign of dullness requires fewer sharpening strokes and less pressure, while more strokes and more pressure are required with an extremely dull instrument, not to mention that you may need a coarser stone that removes more metal. So with all that said, I don”t have an exact answer for you. I would recommend trying some of the instruments with the new technology that maintains a sharper edge for a longer period of time. Newer stainless steel alloys and heat treatment processes create a more durable edge that can maintains sharpness for up to three to four months. Newer diamond-coated instruments never need sharpened, but are only available in limited designs. While the newer technologies may cost more upfront, the fact that they last longer may outweigh the expense.