Preventive Care

XP Sharpen-Free Instruments: FAQs from a Dental Hygienist

By Melia Lewis, RDH, BSDH on August, 26 2021
XP Sharpen-Free Instruments: FAQs from a Dental Hygienist
Melia Lewis, RDH, BSDH

Melia has been a dental hygienist for 10 years and loves being part of the dental field. She's originally from Alberta, Canada, but now lives and works in Utah. When she's not practicing dental hygiene or working on her website Hygiene Edge, she loves being in the Utah Mountains or being with her 5 year old Georgia.

You’ve probably heard of American Eagle’s XP® Sharpen-Free instruments before, have seen them on social media, or held one at a dental conference in years past. But, seeing one for the first time and actually using one in practice are two completely different ball games. Because of that, we want to answer some frequently asked questions from clinical dental hygienists.

What is an XP Sharpen-Free instrument?
XP technology eliminates the need to sharpen instruments through a patented surface engineering process that creates a sharper, more durable long-lasting edge. When titanium nitride and carbon are infused into a high-quality stainless steel instrument, it changes the composition of the instrument’s metal surface, making it 10 times more wear-resistant than traditional stainless steel instruments.

Do you notice auditory differences between stainless steel instruments and XP instruments?
In a roundabout way, yes. XP instruments are so sharp and thin, they really don’t need as much pressure to remove calculus as a dull stainless steel instrument would. Usually with stainless steel, you’ll hear more of a “scraping” sound because of the pressure. With XP, not as much due to less pressure used. It’s a slight difference, but many patients notice it.

How does the sharpness of the XP instruments compare to stainless steel?
I’m going to be completely honest with you. The very first time I tried out the XP instruments – XP Sharpen-Free Thin to be specific – I ended up cutting my friend who I was trying them out on. I didn’t realize how sharp they’d be!

I had to slow down just a bit to make sure I was completely adapted to prevent it from happening again. But, after working with them a bit more, I definitely started to see the benefits of having this unique material at the working end.

To ensure they stay sharp, you’ll definitely want to follow the processing and handling instructions. Since the material is different, you’ll want to autoclave your XP instruments in different bags than your regular stainless steel instruments. If an XP instrument blade comes into contact with a stainless steel blade, it can actually nick the stainless steel.

Why use XP over stainless steel?
The really great thing about XP is the fact that you don’t need to, and don’t even want to, sharpen these instruments. When you sharpen an instrument, even with the best of sharpeners, it will slightly change the design shape of the blade and cutting edge. And, with a complicated blade, the chances of perfectly recreating the angles is near to impossible.

But, since these instruments don’t need to be sharpened, new designs, trickier bends, and multiple cutting edges can be experimented with. These new instrument designs have answered many RDHs’ biggest pain points with scaling.

Like the Boge 513 – this instrument has a hoe on one end. A hoe?! Isn’t that an ancient, bulky design? Traditionally, yes. But since XP entered into the scene, the hoe can be made so much smaller and thinner, and it can actually be used around a lingual retainer and lots of cement where the calculus loves to hang on.

The Double Gracey is another amazing advancement that’s possible due to XP technology. One instrument takes the place of two, since it combines both a mesial and distal Gracey. No more switching between instruments mid-tooth, or searching around your tray for a specific instrument.

What are the price differences between a stainless steel and XP instruments?
This is always a difficult question to address and answer, because prices fluctuate between times, companies, specials, handles, instrument design, etc. But, the retail price of an American Eagle stainless steel instrument is around $43 and an XP is around $65. However, promotions often bring those prices down, so keep an eye out for periodic special offers.

One other thing to consider when it comes to pricing is sharpening. XP instruments are designed to last as long as (or longer than) stainless steel instruments, but without the need to sharpen them. They retain their original edge throughout their useable lifespan, so there’s no need to build in sharpening time, or hassle with a sharpening service.

Why choose XP instruments?
Because you deserve it! After this crazy year of extra PPE, overdue patients, lots of hand scaling, lots of last-minute cancellations due to exposures, testing, and so much more, we deserve to treat ourselves and our patients to something that will make a lasting difference in the way you practice.

Why the colored handles?
Honestly, the colored handles are what you may end up loving the most. Each design has its own assigned color. It makes seeing what’s on your tray so much clearer, and allows you to find your instrument much faster than having to look at the numbers on the handle. Plus, the resin handles are lighter and more ergonomic than a traditional stainless steel handle.

Hopefully this helped answer some of your questions about American Eagle XP instruments. If you want to try them out or have follow-up questions, the Young Clinical Representative team would love to help! This is a highly trained group of dental hygienists in each state that can come to your office, show and teach you about the instruments and instrumentation in general, and there are also opportunities for you and your office to earn CE credit on top of it. They’re excited to connect and get to know you!

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