The largest reason for dental instrument re-tipping that I see in my service company is that the practice waits way too long to sharpen. Waiting longer to sharpen will not save you money. What it will do is cause discomfort to the patient and the hygienist.
The patient may have more bruising of the gum and the hygienist may have cramping in the hand. This is because the hygienist is pressing harder to detect calculus. Also moving the instrument a few degrees trying to detect calculus. This will round the edge, further deteriorating the instrument.
What I see is a dull instrument that I have to take off more metal than normal to gain sharpness When the instrument is dull, the blade surface will become rounded. This area has to come off to regain sharpness.
Sharpen your instruments on a regular basis will keep your instruments in top condition. They will also last longer. Another reason for dental instrument re-tipping is corrosion on the blade of the instruments. This corrosion is totally preventable by washing the instruments after each use.
The corrosion is caused by blood pathogens in the saliva. If these pathogens are not washed off thoroughly, it will cause corrosion on the instrument. This corrosion will destroy your mirrors and require new mirror ends be installed. Scalars and other instruments can corrode on the sharp edge of the instrument causing the need for re-tipping.
This can be quite annoying when your instruments are new or newly sharpened and already need to be re-tipped. Should I mention the cost, it can add up fast.
Improper cleaning and then using the autoclave will only make the corrosion worse.
Take the time to wash each instrument completely. Use a stiff brush and an antibacterial wash. When all saliva and blood are removed, then autoclave. Cover proper procedures with your staff to make sure everyone is on the same page. Dry completely to prevent rust.
You may be interested to know that most of my re-tipping work is from improperly cared for instruments and not instruments that have been worn out. Dental instruments are made of high grade stainless steel and will last a long time with proper care.
You may be curious about what I can do for your instruments if they are corroded. First, if the corrosion is not too deep I may be able to polish it out of the instrument. There are a number of tools to do this depending on the angle and type of instrument. If the damage is on the cutting edge it really depends on how deep the corrosion is whether I can save the end or not.
Second if the corrosion is in the cutting edge, then I may have to grind it off to save the instrument. You should note that some corrosion can be taken out, but the instrument is permanently pitted. Whether the instrument is re-tipped at this point depends on the doctor or hygienist. In most cased if the instrument is usable the doctor or hygienist will not opt for re-tipping. However even if I am able to save the instrument today and avoid the cost of re-tipping you have still lost some valuable life for your instrument and that only translates in money lost for your practice.