Why Your Dental Office Needs an Air Compressor & Which One

Are you just setting up your new dental office or refurbishing your old one? One of the things that you should not forget to buy for your dental office is a dental air compressor. 

What is a dental compressor? A dental compressor is a mechanical device that pressurizes atmospheric air for use in dental procedures. Why does your dental office need an air compressor? Let’s find out.

What does a dental air compressor do? A dental air compressor cleans, dries, and stores air, which you can use to power handpieces, dental units, and syringes. On top of that, dental air compressors lower the dew point of compressed air and remove impurities through an inline filtration system, eliminating bacteria during dental surgery. Lowering the dew point also eliminates moisture from the air, protecting your handpiece.

If you are about to buy a compressor for your dental office, you might be confused by the plethora of options available on the market. Read on to find out why a compressor is important and which one to choose for your office. 

Importance of dental office air compressor

Your dental office needs an air compressor for the following reasons:

It supplies clean air

Dental offices must meet a high degree of hygienic criteria. This means that even the air that goes into the patients’ mouth should be clean. Air compressors help to clean the air in the office, ensuring that people do not swallow contaminants from the air. On top of that, they prevent cross-contamination from the air that the patients breathe out.

It removes moisture from the air

Water in the air is a great concern for most dentists. Any moisture in the air is not only toxic, but it also increases the risk of bacteria growth. Therefore, dentists must ensure that they choose a compressor that lowers the dewpoint as much as is possible, to prevent bacterial growth.

It safeguards your equipment

If you have been practicing for a while now, you have probably noticed that dental tools are very delicate. Additionally, the best tools on the market are very expensive. This makes proper care a necessity if you do not want to keep replacing your equipment. 

Wet, dirty, or unclean air speeds up the corrosion and damage of your equipment. The most affected equipment are:

  • Handpieces
  • Drills
  • Scalers
  • 3/1 syringes
  • Delivery units 
  • Chair valves

An air compressor helps to prevent damage from moisture by drying the air. On top of that, it keeps the air clean, eliminating all microorganisms that might decrease the precision of your tools.  

How to choose the best dental office air compressor

Dental compressors can be installed in one of two locations in your office. A big compressor in a central room or one small compressor in each chair. Also, you can purchase a portable dental air compressor, which you can move around as much as you need.

Some of the factors that you should consider when choosing a compressor for your dental office are:


  • Noise


Dental patients require a quiet environment, and so do dentists so that they can work with precision. Loud compressors can agitate your patients and reduce your concentration and precision.

When choosing a compressor, go for one with a 60-70 decibels range, as it tends to be quieter. If you go for one with a higher range, you can use acoustic cabinets to reduce the noise. Alternatively, you can install silencers and covers that reduce noise without affecting the air circulation in the compressor cabinet.


  • Power


While some compressors rate their power in kilowatts (kW), some rate it in Horsepower (HP). The power range of a compressor determines its ability to pump air. The stronger your compressor is, the longer you can use it, and the more the equipment it can power.

A compressor with 1HP to 5HP will help you run your equipment. The more equipment you want to power, the stronger your compressor should be. Remember that 1 kW equals 1.34 HP.


  • Size


Dental air compressor manufacturers provide different sizes of compressors for dental offices. Which compressor size is ideal for you? Most compressors measure output in one of two ways:

  • Liters per Minute (LPM)
  • Cubic feet per minute (CFM)

Each central chair in your office requires about 50 LPM or 2 CFM. Before buying a compressor, check whether its production will fulfill the needed amount for every chair in your office. On top of that, consider personnel who use equipment simultaneously as regular simultaneous use can strain a system that as low production.

When checking the size of a compressor, ensure that you check the duty cycle. The duty cycle refers to the percentage of time that a compressor can run without cooling. Most compressors have a duty cycle of 30%, which means that they can run 18 minutes per hour without cooling.

You might find two compressors with the same CFM, but the one with a higher duty cycle can run for longer without reducing its lifespan.


  • Possibility of expansion


Aside from looking at your “now” needs, you need to look at your future needs before buying a dental compressor. How many tools do you have today, and how many will you have in the future when you expand your office?

Make sure that you buy a compressor that will suit your future needs. Remember that if you overwork your compressor, the quality of air will be compromised, and this might damage your practice. 


  • Oil-less versus lubricated


Dental office compressors can either be oil-less or lubricated. In some states, you are required by law to buy an oil-free dental air compressor with dryer, a bacterial filter, and an internally coated air receiver. Therefore, make sure that you check the regulations in your country before making a purchase. 

In the past, oil-free compressors required more regular maintenance compared to their lubricated counterpart. However, new models require little maintenance. Generally, oil-less compressors are the industry standard because lubricated ones become contaminated over time. Moreover, oil vapor can negatively impact air quality, not forgetting; you need to check the oil levels in the lubricated compressor regularly.

In conclusion

When choosing an air compressor for your dental office, make sure that you look at your future needs. If you plan on expanding your office in the future, buy a compressor that will cater to your needs even then.

An oil-free compressor is the best compressor for your office as it barely affects the quality of air. Always make sure that your compressors are in a space that is well-ventilated, to maximize their longevity. 

Finally, do not forget that dental compressor maintenance is vital to the smooth running and life span of your compressors. Check the manufacturer’s manual to see how long you need to wait before scheduling maintenance for your compressor. 

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