Hydraulic VS Electric Dental Chair – Advantage and Disadvantage of Each

Introduction

The dental chair is an essential fixture in every dental clinic. With the advancements in medical technology also comes advancements in equipment. This also means that choosing the right medical equipment, in this case, a dental chair, becomes a tad more complicated than it ever was.

The dental chair is a piece of interesting equipment as it can be considered as the core of any dental clinic. All procedures will be done in this equipment, and it is the first thing that patients will notice going in. In that regard, the dental chair must be welcoming and comfortable to the patient. For the dentist, the dental chair must be reliable and convenient.

With two types of dental chairs to choose from: hydraulic and electric, it can be quite a daunting task for new dentists to pick the right one. This is because both hydraulic and electric dental chairs offer something different to the table. With both having their own advantages and disadvantages.

In this article, we will be going through every aspect of choosing the right dental chair. We will be discussing hydraulic dental chairs as well as their electric counterpart to help clear out any questions that you might have. By the end of this article, we expect our readers to be fully informed in regards to choosing the best dental chair for their clinic. Now, then, let us begin.

Essential Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dental Chair

Before we head on to the meat of the topic, it is best to acquaint yourself with the basics of a quality dental chair. This will give you a proper perspective as to which type of dental chair will suit you best. So, below are vital factors to look for when buying a dental chair:

Functionality

A smart looking dental chair will give the ideal first impression to a patient. A dental chair complete with all the necessary accessories such as in-depth control panels, foot control, and programmable seat positions will elicit confidence and security to the patient. For the dentist, having all of these features on hand will improve their effectiveness by a significant percentage.

Of course, having all the modern accessories and dental equipment will be for naught if the dental chair itself is unreliable. At the center of a dependable dental clinic are the dentist and the dental chair. As long as the dental chair is up to industry standards in terms of construction, the dentist will be able to deliver highly productive results. Simply put, what is a blacksmith without his tools?

A reliable dental chair must remain dependable and in operating order for at least a decade. Keep that in mind; ten years is the bare minimum of how long a dental chair should last. Check reviews of noteworthy dental chair manufacturers to help point you in the right direction when hunting for a dental chair.

Comfort

This is the most crucial aspect to consider on the side of the patient. Dental chairs must have an ergonomic design, which ensures higher support for the patient as well as for the dentist and their staff/assistant.

  • For the Patient’s Comfort

From the patient’s perspective, a visit to the dentist can be quite an anxiety-fueled process. This is why it is vital to reduce the stress the patient is experiencing from the get-go. Having an extraordinarily well-designed and comfortable dental chair will be able to accomplish this with ease.

The dental chair should provide ample cushioning to the patient. It should also be able to deliver excellent support to their posture as they lay down. The last thing you need is to compound the patient’s anxiety with an off-kilter dental chair that causes the patient to strain instead of relaxing.

Thanks to the advancements of dental chair design and construction, you can find dental chairs that are designed to sync with the patient’s posture. This adaptability technology will effectively reduce the amount of time repositioning the dental chair during operation. The headrest should also be taken into account and be ensured that it is entirely adjustable to accommodate adults and children. Other features to consider include a built-in massager and heating units that will further improve the experience of the patient.

  • For the Dentist’s Comfort

Of course, comfort is not exclusive to just the patient. To optimize the productivity and efficiency of the dentist, they too should be considered in this respect as well. With that in mind, below are some crucial aspects of the dental chair that should be taken into account top optimize its comfort and effectiveness for the dentist.

First, the dental chair should offer the dentist mobility and maneuverability within and around the patient. The dental chair should be designed with the utmost focus on providing the dentist with as much option for comfortable positioning as possible.

A good rule of thumb here is to avoid dental chairs with a considerably wider backrest. While this will offer patients better comfort, it will make it harder for dentists to position themselves correctly. Avoid these types of dental chair backrest altogether. Instead, go for dental chairs with a sleeker, somewhat narrower backrest.

Find the middle ground here; it should be just wide enough to accommodate all patients. But narrow enough to provide dentists with optimum maneuverability around the dental chair. As an added note, look for dental chairs that have mechanical chair positioning functionality. Dental chairs with these types of positioning mechanism are considered the ones that allow optimum access to the patent.

Design

Go into any dental clinic, and I guarantee that the dental chair is the first fixture you will initially notice. This is why the aesthetic of the dental chair is essential as it will be the one to form the patient’s first impression on your clinic.

Is the dental chair look warm and inviting or does it appear cold and clinical? The look of the dental chair will provide a much-needed assurance to the patient. Fortunately, dental chairs can be fully customized to match the interior design of the clinic.

Every major exterior part of the dental chair is fully customizable with different color fabrics and upholstery. This allows the dental chair to be fully integrated into any clinic, no matter the aesthetics of the establishment is.

I highly recommend investing in upholstery kits. These kits contain all the necessary items needed to clean and maintain upholstery material properly. This is important as upholstery is susceptible to wear and tear over time. Since dental chairs primarily use padding, it is best to have this kit on-hand to help retain the appearance of your dental chair.

Dental Chair Operatory Accessories

Most dental chair manufacturers offer packages that include all necessary configurations such as dental delivery systems and light mounting. It might be smart to go for these packages for better convenience during installation. This is because wirings and electronics are already combined with the dental chair design, so there is no need to rewire electrical sockets within the clinic.

However, buying parts separately also has its advantages. For example, purchase dental chair and accessories separately allows for better customization when it comes to positioning the chair and the installation of the dental delivery system.

One benefit of using free-standing dental chairs is that it can help reduce the anxiety of the patient. This is due to the instruments being out of the patient’s view during the said procedure. With a more open space around the dental chair, it can help create a more relaxing environment for the patient.

Buying Dental Chairs Brand New or Refurbished

Obviously, buying a brand-new dental chair is always the safest route to avoid any issues with the unit. However, it can burn quite a deep hole for those who are just starting their own clinic. Refurbished is a good alternative here, as long as you make sure that the dental chair is indeed restored and is not only “used”.

Refurbished dental chairs will go through tests and proper replacements of parts to ensure it is up to standards. Refurbished dental chairs are also usually 40 to 60% cheaper than brand new dental chairs. As a bonus, the latest dental equipment and accessories can still be attached to a refurbished dental chair.

Hydraulic and Electromechanical Dental Chairs

Now that you have the basics down when it comes to important factors when buying dental chairs, it’s time to discuss the two types that are available in the market.

  • Hydraulic Dental Chairs

These types of dental chairs are the most common models you will find in the market. It uses pumps and valves to operate the dental chair and change its position. Hydraulic dental chairs are also considerably quieter to operate than electric dental chairs.

  • Electromechanical Dental Chairs

Electromechanical dental chairs, on the other hand, uses motors to control the movement and positioning of the chair. Due to the chair’s use of various mechanical parts, moving the chair into the right position is more comfortable and more accurate. The downside is that the mechanical whirring during these transitions can be somewhat loud.

Advantages of Using a Hydraulic System in a Dental Chair

One of the biggest advantage ones can expect from using a hydraulic system in conjunction with their dental chair is its simple and easy controls. Hydraulic systems utilize simple control schemes like levers and buttons to operate the machinery.

  • Easy and Simple

Moving the dental chair into position will be a relatively straightforward process. Starting, stopping, accelerating, and decelerating can all be handled by the hydraulic system in relative ease. The hydraulic system is also well-known for its fluid movement and ability to adapt to a broad range of weight.

  • Excellent Weight Support

Dental chairs that incorporate this system can also expect consistency when delivering force, no matter the speed it is currently using. Hydraulic systems also utilize fewer moving parts compared to the electromechanical dental chairs. The fewer the moving parts, the easier it is to maintain said system.

Another additional advantage of using hydraulic systems is that it does not create sparks. So, there is little to no risk of it being a fire hazard.

Disadvantages of Using a Hydraulic System in a Dental Chair

With all its advantages, hydraulic systems also have a couple of drawbacks that we need to point out. One of the most significant downsides of using hydraulics is handling the hydraulic fluids. Hydraulic fluids can leave quite a mess and cleaning it off can take a considerable amount of time and effort. This is doubly true if the hydraulic system stars leaking.

  • Hydraulic Fluid is Hazardous

While the system itself won’t cause any fire, the hydraulic fluid within may catch fire, it leaks and is exposed to open flame. So, whenever handling hydraulic fluid, make sure that there are no nearby open flames.

  • Hydraulic Fluid is Not Environment-Friendly

Another essential health precaution when handling hydraulic fluid is that it is a corrosive agent. Hence, being overexposed to hazardous liquid may cause health problems. It is vital to do periodic checkups and maintenance when it comes to hydraulic dental chairs. This is to catch potential issues as early as possible. Having the hydraulic system go through repairs can lead to quite a hefty fee. So, it best to take precautionary steps.

Advantages of Using an Electromechanical System in a Dental Chair

When it comes to electric dental chairs, most of the advantages it offers revolve around convenience and accuracy. Known for its high-performance capabilities, most dental chairs that incorporate electromechanical systems allow for smooth and accurate movement and positioning.

  • High Precision Control

Electromechanical systems are also highly resilient to temperature variations and can adapt quite quickly to such changes. Providing absolute control is one of the highlights of using electric dental chairs. This allows dentists to promptly adjust and reposition the chair with little margin of error.

Another advantage of this type of system is with its pre-programmable settings. With a push of a button, dentists can automatically adjust the height and position to a pre-programmed profile. Eliminating the need to adjust the dental chair and waste time manually.

  • Affordable and Low-Maintenance

Generally, most electric dental chair systems are more affordable than its hydraulic counterpart. It will require substantially lower maintenance. You will also don’t have to worry about hydraulic fluid leaks and oil maintenance.

Since this type of system won’t require hazardous fluids, electromechanical dental chairs will also require less downtime during repairs. Electric dental chairs are also pretty capable when it comes to supporting various weight ranges.

  • Safety Measures

An electromechanical system will usually have safety precautions in place as well. For example, in the event of sudden power loss, the actuators of the electric dental chair will immediately lock in place, preventing accidents.

As we have pointed earlier, convenience and precision are the two key benefits of having an electromechanical dental chair. Installation is also relatively easy with an instruction manual. It is also designed to be quick to program and fine-tune and will synchronize quite well with its multiple axes.

People also have more freedom when it comes to installing the control cabinet compared to a hydraulic system. The hydraulic system will require control panels to be located as close as possible to the dental chair.

  • Environment-Friendly

Electrotechnical systems are also considered more environment-friendly as it does not use any hazardous liquids. This also means that you won’t need to worry about the proper disposal of said hazardous materials (hydraulic fluid).

Disadvantages of Using an Electromechanical System in a Dental Chair

With all the advantages that electric dental chairs offer, it is not perfect. As with any form of technology, there will always be some downsides that must be addressed.

  • Overheating Problems

While rare, since this system will use electronic components, overheating is an ever-present issue that looms overhead. Depending on the location it is installed at, the risk of overheating may increase. Having a clinic that provides adequate air-flow or has proper air-condition is highly recommended to ensure that the electro mechanism operates in top form.

  • Weight Range Support Varies

Load ratings will differ depending on the model. Make sure that you check how much weight the electric dental chair system can support. Most models will provide a good range, but it is best to ensure that the dental chair will be able to support the maximum amount of weight.

  • It is Susceptible to Electrical Damage

Power surges may or may not affect your electromechanical dental chair; it is pretty much a coin toss in this regard. A surge protector might be recommended to ensure the integrity of the system. If the electric dental chair goes through a massive burst of an electrical surge, it can effectively fry specific components. This may lead to costly repairs if the whole system is affected.

Hydraulic and Electromechanical System Comparisons

  • Precision VS Force

When it comes to maximum force that can be applied/generated, a hydraulic system is one of the most reliable. That being said, it lacks the precision that electric actuators used in electromechanical dental chairs provide.

On the flip side, an electric dental chair will not be able to match up the force generated by a hydraulic system. But when it comes to precision in control, an electric dental chair is untouchable. This is thanks primarily to the actuators within the mechanism.

Overall, the hydraulic system will usually suffice unless you require optimum control and maneuverability that only an electric dental chair can deliver.

  • Energy Efficiency

Hydraulic systems maintain constant use of energy but can do so in a stable rate without fluctuating too much. Hydraulic systems incorporate a two-step energy conversion process, which means it is continually exerting energy, even at a low level. Compare this to electric dental chairs which only require power when on the move, then you get an idea which one is more efficient in saving energy. This round goes to the electromechanical dental chair.

  • Installation

In regards to installation, electric dental chairs are significantly easier to set up. Electrical rewiring can be done within a day if you hire a professional. With a hydraulic system, installation is more complicated as it requires setting up plumbing, pumps, and filters.

  • Longevity of the Unit

This will be subjective to how often the unit will be used. However, based on average data acquired – an electromechanical dental chair is designed for millions of cycles on every load rating. Hydraulic systems also have substantial numbers in this regard, providing that the unit is well-made and has quality and adequate seal wear. This round is a stalemate, as the overall quality of the unit will be a significant factor when it comes to the chair’s life expectancy.

Overall Cost

Electric dental chairs are moderately priced. While it is more expensive than the hydraulic dental chair, it requires low maintenance compared to its counterpart. On the other hand, hydraulic dental chairs and its components are cheaper. However, the installation and maintenance cost is considerably increased.

Conclusion

Both dental chair types have their advantages and disadvantages. Weighing in on these elements carefully will help guide you towards the best option for your clinic. Keep in mind that you need to take the initial investment, the maintenance fee, and potential repair costs all into account as well.

Both hydraulic and electric dental chairs are excellent choices and are generally reliable. As long as you purchase a unit from a reputable dental chair manufacturing company, you won’t need to worry much about performance issues. Most companies even offer excellent warranties with their units which will further help ease your mind when investing in this expensive equipment.

Overall, whether you pick a hydraulic dental chair or an electromechanical dental chair for your clinic – you can be sure that it will accomplish its task. Check the manufacturer, check their online presence, and check customer feedback. These are easy tried and true methods to help gauge a product’s, in this case, a dental chair’s quality with relative ease.