Sterile air in practice – why does it matter?


  Posted by: Dental Design      20th April 2023

Your air compressor plays an essential part of keeping your practice running smoothly. Indeed, without a working air compressor you wouldn’t be able to provide the majority of treatments – it’s an often-overlooked piece of technology, but fundamental to your practice’s success.

However, an air compressor simply expelling air isn’t enough. It also needs to be running compliantly, creating safe, sterile air that ensures you’re providing safe treatment for all. But why is air quality so important and what factors can influence this?

Bacteria and other pathogens

It goes without saying that bacteria or other pathogens being present in an air supply is bad news. Air compressors are designed to remove contaminants from the air through filtration and drying processes, which ensure that these contaminants are eliminated from the air flow and never expelled during treatment. However, should an air compressor malfunction, there is a risk that bacteria and other potentially infectious pathogens will be in the air flow, potentially leading to the spread of infection.

This is especially concerning when you consider that dental practices are often environments where air can contain high levels of bacteria, viruses and blood particles, especially after aerosol generation procedures. If air isn’t properly filtered and decontaminated properly, there’s nothing to stop these infectious particles being spread from patient to patient.

Moisture matters 

Guaranteeing the air you use in practice is moisture-free is also essential. Air compressors remove the moisture from air via desiccant dryer technology, a process which lowers the dew point and ensures that air is free from humidity.

The reason this is so vital is that moisture encourages the colonisation of pathogens. When moisture is present, this could lead to microbes multiplying in supply lines and other areas, which would very quickly present a risk to you and your patients. When an air compressor isn’t functioning to its full potential, moisture may enter the air flow – so it’s absolutely crucial that professionals schedule regular maintenance for their air supply to ensure this doesn’t occur.

Choose oil-free operation

There are numerous types of air compressor out there, so it can be difficult to know which model will guarantee the best quality of air. Oil-lubricated compressors require oil to ensure smooth operation. However, these units can also contaminate the air flow with oil vapour, which is impossible to fully remove from the air flow even with filtration.

Much like moisture, oil vapour can encourage the colonisation of pathogens. Furthermore, this vapour eventually returns to a liquid or solid state, which can clog up handpieces and other instruments. Oil-lubricated air compressors also tend to have higher maintenance needs, as oil levels need to be checked and replaced on a routine basis.

As such, to ensure clean air it’s highly recommended to invest in an oil-free air compressor model. This way, you can completely avoid any chance of oil vapour contamination and ensure that maintaining your system is easier.

Medical grade air is the standard to aim for

When we think of purified air, we often assume that this just means that it’s free from contaminants such as pathogens or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). However, medical grade air is the gold-standard that dental practices should be aiming for and it differs from purified air in a number of important respects.

Medical grade air is ultra-clean, purified, free from moisture and is a colourless, odourless, non-flammable gas. On the other hand, simple purified air still contains moisture, meaning that it is unsuitable for dental procedures.

With compliance being such an important part of maintaining standards and safeguarding patients and staff, it makes sense to prioritise your air quality in every way possible. This includes using an oil-free air compressor, but also scheduling regular maintenance so that your system is always performing to the best of its ability.

This can be a time-consuming and often stressful process, especially when you’re balancing it with everyday duties. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Air to the Chair from Dental Air is a hassle-free way to guarantee that you have medical grade air at all times.

Air to the Chair includes next-day delivery and installation of a brand new, oil-free compressor unit, as well as complete breakdown cover, regular servicing and all certification to prove ongoing compliance. It’s a fast, convenient solution that turns your air compressor into just another utility, helping to protect your staff and your patients as well as avoid any equipment malfunctions that could lead to downtime.

Your air is important

At the end of the day, air quality in practice has a huge impact on the standard and safety of the treatment you provide. By ensuring your air compressor is regularly maintained and producing medical grade air, you can rest assured that your practice will keep up and running and your patients won’t be at risk.


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