Types of Suction Machine – Key Differences Between Vacuum Systems

dental suction machine


The suction machine or vacuum system is an integral part of any dentist’s clinic. This dental equipment has gone through several revisions and upgrades throughout the years with the latest versions providing the most convenient features and functionalities to both dentist and patient. The current generation dental vacuum systems are designed with a focus on durability as well as keeping noise level to the bare minimum. In fact, it is rare to encounter dental suction machines that sound as if you are operating a power drill nowadays.

When it comes to choosing the right dental vacuum system, it is best to arm yourself with as much knowledge as you can before looking for a manufacturer. If you are currently in the middle of gathering information about this particular subject, then you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be delving headfirst into all the essential information regarding suction machines. From the different types of suction machine to their uses, benefits, and what to look for – we have you covered on all the basics, and then some.

The Main Types of Suction Machine in Dentistry

electric suction machine 01

To start, there are two main types of suction machine that are used in the dentistry; these are:

  • Saliva ejector
  • High-volume suction

The name of these two types of dental vacuum is pretty self-explanatory. The saliva ejector does what its name implies; it is used to suck out the saliva in the patient’s mouth. In most instances, the patient will need to close their mouths to increase the suction capability of the saliva ejector and clean out any remaining saliva.

As for the high-volume suction, think of it as a more powerful version of the saliva ejector. The extracting power of the high-volume suction makes it more akin to a vacuum cleaner. The dentist (or assistant) will only need to hold it close to the area of the mouth being operated on, and the high-volume suction machine will suck out not only the excess saliva but also any debris.

Types of Dental Vacuum Systems

Now that you know the two kinds of dental suction machines, it is now time to understand the two types of systems that power the two vital dental equipment. Again, there are two types that you will encounter in this particular area of the dental equipment category. These are the Normal Vacuum System and the Central Vacuum System. The two work in conjunction with each other, and it is in one’s best interest to implement both in their clinic.

Differences Between the Normal Vacuum System and the Central Vacuum System

As we have stated earlier, both dental vacuum systems work best in conjunction with one another. There are significant differences between the two which is why it is best to choose a dental vacuum system that implements both systems. Read on below to know more about these two types of dental vacuum systems.

Normal Vacuum System

This is the most common type of vacuum system and is built into the dental unit itself. This type is typically weaker as it does not employ any other auxiliary machine. This vacuum system operates by using a combination of water and air pressure. The water pressure controls the milder suction while the air pressure provides a more powerful extraction.


  • Compact design as it does not come with an auxiliary suction machine.
  • Normal vacuum systems are more affordable.


  • Weak suction power.
  • Blockage is a common problem.
  • Limited resources that need regular refills (air and water pressure).
  • Produces secondary pollution quickly.
  • Does not meet modern surgical suction requirements.

Central Vacuum System

A central vacuum system is an additional machine that significantly enhances the suction power of the normal vacuum system. The central vacuum system will be able to cover all the bases that normal vacuum systems cannot. Because of the advantages that central vacuum systems provide, it has become a staple in modern dental clinics. Implementing both types of vacuum system will ensure that the oral cavity of the patient will be maintained clean and that saliva buildup will be prevented with relative ease during the surgery.

Also, of note is that there are two sub-types of central vacuum systems as well. These are the wet vacuum and dry vacuum. We will be detailing the differences between the two to help you grasp the importance of both for your dentistry practices.

Wet Vacuum System


  • Wet vacuum systems are typically more affordable compared to dry vacuum systems.
  • More compact and takes up less space.
  • Installing or repairing the second motors are cheaper.
  • Low noise level.


  • Will add to your monthly water bill.
  • Unstable suction power if multiple connections operate simultaneously.
  • Since it typically utilizes one motor, if said engine breaks down the whole machine won’t be able to operate.
  • Maintenance cost usually is more expensive.

Dry Vacuum Systems


  • Features variable speed motor functionality which provides consistency in extraction power.
  • Can be temporarily reconnected to a shop vacuum if the main motor breaks down.
  • Energy-efficient and does not require a water connection to operate.
  • Requires less maintenance.  


  • Initial installation cost can be quite steep.
  • Dry vacuum systems are typically larger and bulkier.
  • The motor utilized in dry vacuum systems can be quite loud.
  • Installing a second motor is also quite costly.

What are the Uses of Suction Machines?

Now that you are adequately acquainted with types of machines and systems you will encounter in regards to dental vacuum equipment; it is time to go through the reasons as to why having a quality vacuum system is vital. Below are the uses and advantages of utilizing the best suction system for your specific clinic.

Improves Overall Comfort

Improving the patient’s comfort during a dental operation is imperative. A perfect example of how suction machines can improve comfort is with extracting the anesthetic from the oral cavity, which typically has a biting, bitter taste. The sedative, if left unattended in the patient’s mouth, might also cause numbness in the back of the mouth. Using a suction will also prevent saliva, and other liquids build up in the patient’s mouth during operations.

Remove Dental Debris Easily

During certain dental operations, debris from cleaning paste or soft amalgam might irritate the patient. This is another instance wherein a vacuum system will come in handy. Dental vacuum machines can remove excess cleaning paste of thin amalgam pieces from the patient’s oral cavity, making sure that the area is as clean as possible.

Helps Dentists Keep Track During Surgery or Operations

Saliva and debris buildup are common during dental operations. Also, absolute precision is necessary for dentists to conduct such procedures properly. To help dentists see correctly, a suction machine will be implemented to clean out debris and liquid build-up. Dental drills also use water to help keep both the motor and teeth cool, which is why water build-up is virtually unavoidable during certain oral surgical operations. It is during these types of procedures that a high-volume suction machine is recommended. A standard vacuum machine simply won’t have enough suction power to keep oral cavities clean and allow for proper use of a dental mirror.

Keeping Teeth Dry During Dental Procedures

Keeping the patient’s tooth clean and dry during operations such as applying white fillings is vital. A suction machine will help ensure that saliva, water, and blood are extracted entirely and won’t accumulate around or within the tooth. This will help prevent infection, mainly if the cavity being operated on goes underneath the gum-line, which will undoubtedly cause some form of bleeding during the filling procedure.

As you can see from the four reasons stated above, a medical suction pump is an integral aspect when it comes to oral surgery. The correct suction dental equipment will not only help improve the patient’s comfort; it will also help reduce the risk of complications from arising. This is why we highly suggest investing in the best possible dental vacuum system and machine.

Benefits of Using Medical Suction Pumps or Suction Machines

There are also several benefits of using dental suction systems that revolve primarily on the patient. We will be discussing some cases wherein a machine might be necessary during even the most primary dental procedures.

Making Sure the Patient’s Airway is Clear

It is relatively common to come across patients who would always prefer to undergo general anesthesia even with routine dental procedures. This is often caused by anxiety, and it is beneficial for both patient and dentist to respect this request by the patient. In more involved dental procedures, general anesthesia is mandatory no matter the patient’s personal preference in the case. The risk of airways being blocked by saliva build-up and water is quite high in these instances. The right vacuum system will help keep the patient’s airway clean and free from any obstruction. This will also help keep the patient safe in the occurrence that their gag reflex gets triggered during the procedure.

Preventing Choking Accidents

Expanding on the previous bullet point, choking is a pretty common concern with dental patients. This is quite understandable, though as swallowing can be painful during specific procedures. Add to the fact that there will be several foreign objects employed during some procedures, and it is easy to imagine the risk of accidentally choking during dental procedures. However, the risk of accidentally choking during dental operations is a misplaced one. By having a reliable and high-quality suction machine, a patient can rest easy that any chance of surgical debris blocking their airways is nigh eliminated.

It is also essential to explain the uses and benefits of medical suction equipment to the patient. Remember that the doctor must help keep their patient’s mind at ease. This added reassurance will not only help keep the patient relaxed but will also help the procedure go as smoothly as possible. A patient who is assured of their safety will be compliant to the medical practitioner’s instructions and suggestions.

Essential During Dental Emergencies

Unexpected emergencies are to be expected in the medical field. From allergic reactions to medications and accidental choking, it is crucial to have the correct medical equipment during these occasions. With a reliable medical suction pump, dentists can quickly clear the airways of a patient who is in dire need of assistance. Specific medical suction equipment can also help remove clogging in the airways caused by vomit, blood, and other dangerous or toxic substances.

Dental Suction Machine Buying Guide

As you would expect, for a medical clinic to be considered dependable and recommended – it needs skilled medical practitioners as well as high-quality medical equipment and medications. In dentistry, the synergy between the dentist, assistant, and equipment is crucial. Having top-notch medical equipment is indispensable in this industry, but it is not the only factor to consider.

When choosing a dental vacuum system, it is best to include the clinic or facility’s pipeline layout. In fact, this should be the primary focus when it comes to dental clinic planning. Any issues that might arise in the future regarding the clinic’s pipeline can cause significant downtime in operations, and the repairs will unquestionably take a chunk out of your budget/savings as well. We highly recommend you opt for the best possible dental suction system as while the initial investment might be hefty; it will prove itself in the long run.

To help narrow down your options, you should also check whether the suction machine meets the minimum international standard requirements (BS EN ISO 10637). We have listed the industry standards concerning dental vacuum equipment down below.

  • Understanding Conservation and Surgical Dentistry

There are two primary categories in the field of dentistry; these are conversation and surgical dentistry. In regards to conservation dentistry, it is the area wherein dental vacuum apparatuses are often utilized. When it comes to dental vacuum units, high airflow and moderate vacuum capacity are ideal as this will be able to keep the tooth cool and concentrate water spray on the tip of the drill and suction device.

When it comes to surgical applications, it is recommended for the vacuum system to deliver low to medium airflow while pushing the vacuum capability to high. This vacuum setting will allow the unit to extract debris and remove blood from the oral cavity easily.

  • Air Flow

Check if the unit meets the minimum 250 liters of air/minute for a 16mm+ aspirator or within 250mbar for a 1mm aspirator tip. As for the compressor system, make sure it meets a minimum requirement of 50 liters per minute at 5bar.

  • Negative Pressure or Vacuum Pulling Power

When it comes to the negative pressure, a rule of thumb would be to defer to the size of the tip of the suction. The smaller the size of the tip, the higher the negative pressure is needed. In general, check for a dental vacuum unit that provides 150mbar as this is a safe ballpark for a good vacuum. As for the maximum measurement, 250mbar should be where you hit the limit in regards to negative pressure.

  • Pipeline System

As for pipework, we refrain you from using ABS type and only consider MUPVC types. You should avoid using T connection and swept bends that are installed underneath the pump as it will cause water to collect and become stagnant within the pipeline.

Best Suction Machine Dental Manufacturers

There are numerous manufacturing companies out there so picking the best one might be a bit complicated. To help point you towards the right direction, here are top three of our most highly recommended suppliers in the market today.

  1. AutoVac Industrial Vacuum and Air Systems

AutoVac provides clients and customers with some of the most energy-efficient dental vacuum systems in the market today. Their products also provide optimum efficiency and reliability. AutoVac vacuum systems are also designed to cover all levels of medical oral procedures. Their products are also known as among for its robust build and heavy-duty application.

2. Vic Dental

dental suction machine

Vic Dental offers a highly versatile selection of dental chair and dental equipment, making them one of the most recommended dental equipment manufacturers in Asia. The company develops not only dental suction machines, but also dental vacuum pumps and dental systems. The company is known for the flexibility and versatility of their products. Vic Dental suction machines are also designed to be compact to take as small a footprint as possible. Vic Dental has also made a reputation for not only offering versatile dental equipment, but also providing a highly flexible price range.

3. BaseVac Dental Dry Vacuum System

This Canada-based manufacturer offers one of the most advanced dental vacuum systems in the market today. One of the company’s biggest draw is the overall design of their vacuum systems which are quite compact and quiet. Also, their dry vacuum system is cost and energy efficient as well as being environment-friendly.

Suction Machine FAQs

What are the differences between wet and dry vacuum systems?

As we have stated earlier in this article, wet vacuum units tend to be more affordable. However, dry vacuum systems are considered to be far more reliable. Case in point, wet vacuum system can hit up to 15″ Hg suction pressure while dry vacuum systems can reach up to 25″ Hg. This gives dry vacs the capability to cover the optimum power and performance that a dentist will expect from this type of medical equipment. Consider this factor when buying a dental suction machine.

How does water consumption factor into your decision?

If you opt to use wet dental vacuum system, remember that it will require fresh and clean water to operate. A standard wet vac system will work using half a gallon of fresh water per minute. In some cases, dental clinics utilize 2×2 hp wet vacuum systems which can use up to 2 gallons per minute. This is a pivotal factor to consider when choosing a wet vacuum system as this equipment will also add up to your monthly water bill.

What is the difference between modern dry vacuum systems from the older generation models?

If you have recently browsed through the market for dental dry vacuum systems, you might have noticed that some promote the unit as “Oil-free”. What does this mean exactly? Well, similar to other industrial mechanisms, the motor will require oil for lubrication and help control heat buildup in the machine. Old dry vacuum systems use oils and as such, will require oil maintenance which can be costly. Newer models of dental dry vacs can deliver powerful vacuum without utilizing the need for oil lubricants in its motor. This achieved by incorporating carbon fiber vanes which entirely replaces the need for using oil. This also provides some health benefits as oil fumes are not an issue with these new dry vacuum systems.

The bacterial build-up is an issue with wet vacuum systems. How about with dry vacs?

Wet vacuum systems will require an amalgamation filter system as well as a backflow preventer to ensure that bacteria build is prevented. As for dry vac systems, since it does not utilize water, such issues are rarely found in this vacuum system.

How does the drainage and cleaning work with dry vacuum systems?

As simple and easy as possible. Specific dry vac system models utilize air-water separator systems. Dry vac systems also incorporate a gravity drain design with their tanks, ensuring the content in the containers is wholly disposed. Also, the drainage cycle only takes around 6 minutes to complete so cleaning it during open hours is a non-issue.

Final Thoughts

The suction machine and system are one of the most integral components in a dental unit. Not only does it provide convenience for the dentist, but it will also be able to offer respite and comfort for the patient who experiences dental anxiety. Let’s face it, everyone can get a bit stressed when visiting the dentist, but the fact of the matter is that it shouldn’t be the case. With this article, we hope to have shined a light in this particular area of dentistry, namely the different types of suction machine and help guide dentists in choosing the right vacuum system for their practice.