How to Choose Between the Different Types of Dental Air Compressors

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One of the most helpful and indispensable tools in a dental clinic is a dental air compressor. This tool is designed to make your practice safer and your patients more comfortable.

That said, buying the right one is considered an investment as it protects other pricey tools in the clinic which can get damaged due to wet or dirty air. Some of the tools that will benefit from a good air compressor include scalers, handpieces, drills, delivery units, chair valves, and 3/1 syringes.

An air compressor also helps you maximize your revenues by prolonging the lifespan of your tools. Through this, you won’t need to replace them too often.

How Does It Work

A dental air compressor works by compressing, drying, cleaning, and storing air. It provides power to handpiece cleaners and other functions provided in a dental clinic.

The compressor is valuable in dental surgeries as it makes the compressed air’s dew point lower. By doing so, it can get rid of the impurities through an inline infiltration system. The compressed air dryer removes moisture which then gets rid of the bacteria while protecting your handpiece.

An efficient dental practice relies on a reliable and steady supply of high-quality, compressed air.

What happens when you are using a poor-quality air compressor?

A poor quality air compressor can lead to air with lower pressure than what you need, or in worst cases, dirty air. This will lead to your devices malfunctioning. If the compressor is giving good air pressure but releasing unclean air, you risk internal damage to your tools which can shorten their lifespan.

The main problem that the air compressor addresses is moisture. Moist air causes damage to your tools by harming their internal machinery. Moisture lowers the tools’ precision by causing microorganism contamination and corrosion.

Settling on a low-quality air compressor places your tools at risk of developing carbon buildup which can cause serious damage to your handpieces’ machinery.

Categorizing Dental Air Compressors

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Looking for the types of air compressors is not as specific as when you are looking for types of cars or other machines. Different models carry out varying characteristics that depend on the needs and requirements of the buyer.

So, you’d want to look into various factors when choosing the right type of dental air compressor for your needs. They’re as follows:

1. Oil-free Mechanism

Using these compressors undergoes strict regulations, and they are required to meet high levels of hygienic criteria. This is done to protect patients from getting exposed and harmed by contaminants which can lead to other health concerns.

The regulation implements the prohibition of compressors that will allow particles, including oil, to penetrate the airflow.

There was a time when many dentists prefer oil-lubricated compressors because they last longer and are also quieter. The trend has changed since the imposition of regulations and several studies concluding the lubricants’ adverse effects when they penetrate the air.

Oil-free compressors are also lighter, so you can easily place them in any area in the clinic without changing the quality and pressure of their airflow.

2. Noise

Oil-free compressors tend to emit louder cycles. The good news is that you can deal with the noise by having a professional install the equipment for you. They can assess your area and recommend getting a filter silencer installed if your compressor can accommodate it. This silencer will significantly reduce the noise the compressor makes while in operation.

Many silent compressors give out noise levels that range between 60 to 70 decibels. You can have various tools installed to minimize disruption and reduce noise, such as an acoustic hood or cabinet.

3. Size

The size of a compressor suitable for your clinic will depend on your air consumption. You can compute this by considering the numbers of operators in use at the same time. Typically, every chair in the clinic requires 50 liters per minute (lpm). The compressor’s output in lpm refers to the machine’s capacity.

The compressor’s capacity is designed with the amount of time the machine runs without cooling off, known as the limited duty cycle. You will typically be given choices which include the following:

  • 6 to 8 chair air compressor
  • 5 to 6 chair air compressor
  • 4 to 6 chair air compressor
  • 2 to 4 chair air compressor
  • 3 chair air compressor
  • 1 to 2 chair air compressor

Getting the right size for your clinic is crucial for the compressor system to last long and give superior performance. No matter how good the compressor is, it will give out an adverse effect if it is often overworked. This will lead to wet compressed air that may damage your handpieces and put your patients’ and staff’s safety at risk.

4. Power

Most dental clinics require compressors operating between 1 to 5 horsepower to ensure their tools’ efficient performance.

The power range pertains to the motor’s ability to pump air. The power output of these compressors is indicated in HP or horsepower or kW or kilowatts. 1.34 HP is equivalent to 1 kW.

The stronger your pump is, the longer it can deliver power. This means that you would want a stronger compressor if you have more tools in your clinic that require power.

5. Pressure

Air compressors must be able to provide enough pressure for all your tools to operate smoothly, even at the same time. Each tool requires a specific pressure rating. Many of the dental tools in clinics use 5-BAR pressure. It is recommended to generate a bit more pressure than what your tools require to avoid straining the compressor.

To check the pressure requirements of the tools used in the clinic, look at the listed information. This is typically measured in BAR. Many of the applications used, such as the handpieces, have a 5-BAR requirement.

You have to go for pressure exceeding the BAR minimum to get sufficient pressure even while the equipment is used in providing power to several stations. This will also help in compensating for possible drops in pressure across the piping.

What will happen when you run tools with insufficient air pressure? It can cause damage to your equipment, which may require immediate repair or replacement. Using too little pressure than what the tools need may also cause harm to your clients.

When the pressure drops as you are working with drills, the tool may not be able to drill or cut efficiently. This will make your work longer, which will result in longer working hours and higher utility costs. This will also not sit well on your patients and may possibly turn them off.

6. Production

It is better to choose a compressor that can exceed the LPM ratings of your clinic. This way, you are assured that it can handle all your equipment and you will not encounter any problems when you add more.

The Value of Proper Installation of Air Compressors

No matter how good your air compressor’s quality is, it won’t perform at its best if not installed properly. Poor installation can lead to costly repair and noisy performance. It will also speed up the process of getting the equipment maintained and looked after, which means additional expenses for you.

  • Proper installation is a must, so make sure that you scout for the right professionals in your area that deliver the kind of service you are after.
  • Look for a highly-rated supplier and ask for air compressors from known brands. This is an important piece in your clinic, so you shouldn’t settle for less.
  • Ask everything you need to know about the extent of the warranty. You can also ask the installer about the common problems you may encounter and what you can do if they happen.
  • Look for installers that have experienced working in dental clinics. These compressors require properly ventilated space with access to clean air. Putting the compressor in the wrong space might lead to failure, contamination, and overworked filters.
  • When compressors are overworked, they will likely increase moisture in your space. This will lead to contamination, especially when the area has improper ventilation.
  • Aside from air compressors, dental clinics also require a strong vacuum system. You have to get the services of an installer that can guarantee that both systems would have enough space in the clinic. The vacuum must not be placed in close proximity to the compressor. Doing so will increase the pull of carbon dioxide and send them directly to the people inside the clinic, especially to your clients’ open mouths.
  • You can ask for the maintenance record of the company that will handle the installation. You must also be aware if they have handled other dental clinics and ask for feedback and the result of their past work.

Air compressors are essential components in dental clinics. It will ensure the safety of your practice and prolong the lifespan of your equipment. You have to get the right kind of compressor depending on your clinic’s size and the number of tools and chairs used at the same time. This is the kind of investment you won’t regret as long as you get a good-quality brand and have it installed by the pros.