The Importance of your Dental Air Compressor

For those setting up a new dental office, or refreshing an existing one, selecting the right equipment can be an overwhelming task. With a plethora of tools and machines to choose from, how do you find the right one for you?

Your dental air compressor is an integral part of a full-service dental office and a big investment. You’ll want to ensure you make the right decision – and our dental compressor blog series is here to help. We will be covering everything from selecting the right

one for you, to caring for your dental compressor.

The compressor is an often underrated and neglected piece of equipment. It is responsible for compressing, cleaning, drying and storing the air which drives handpieces, dental units and syringes. It performs by lowering the temperature of the compressed air through an aftercooler system, removing impurities via an inline filtration system, and removing moisture through a drying system before it reaches the handpiece. The quality of final output will be dependent on the quality of compressor – and not all are created equal.

Therefore your choice of compressor can prove very consequential. In this post we will discuss the importance of getting equipment for your specific needs, what can go wrong, and what it means for you and your office.


When selecting a compressor it’s likely you will be concerned by some, if not all, of the following;

  • Cost
  • Safety/hygiene
  • Air quality
  • Maintenance
  • Reliability
  • Longevity
  • Future requirements
  • Power
  • Size
  • Output required
  • Noise
  • Efficiency

… and with many different factors to consider it may seem impossible to find the right balance, but doing so is crucial.

What should you prioritise?

Air Quality

It is always recommended that the quality of air produced by your dental compressor should be of high priority, for a number of reasons…


The importance of clean air is more prevalent now than ever before, and dentists cannot ignore the health risks of a poorly maintained air compressor system.

With any oil-based unit there is a possibility of oil entering the pressure chamber, combining with moisture, and creating the optimum breeding ground for microorganisms. Seeing as this contaminated air will be directly used to treat patients it can lead to serious illness or infection.

Furthermore, once released into the atmosphere, this contaminated air creates a health risk to all those in the practice. Most notably children, the elderly, and the immunocompromised will be susceptible to air borne infections, such as E-coli and Legionella.

Therefore in terms of the health and safety of your practice, your choice of dental compressor can have major implications and potentially legal consequences.

Impact on other expensive equipment

Numerous health risks are not the only outcome of an inadequately maintained compressor. Without ultra clean compressed air, the handpieces, scalers, 3/1 syringe, delivery units or chair valves will not function. Poor quality air can have a detrimental impact on the lifespan of these essential and expensive instruments.

The moist air often produced by lesser-quality compressors will slowly reduce the efficiency of these delicate pieces and eventually render them unusable. Specifically, droplets of moisture will decrease performance and precisions over time before resulting in complete corrosion. Not only that, but carbon particles which are created when your oil-based air compressor is under stress can also pose a threat to the sensitive structure of your hand pieces.

Therefore, your choice of dental compressor can also have a drastic impact on protecting the investment made in other instruments.

Future Requirements

As with many other industries, Cosmetic Dentistry has seen dramatic improvements in recent years with the advent of more minimally invasive procedures and the increase of Bonding techniques.

The standard forms of tooth preparation using resistance and retention have largely become redundant when it comes to porcelain or composite inlays, onlays and veneers. Instead, there has been a transition towards procedures with minimal/no tooth preparation; the success of which depends on the bonding technique used. The current adhesive bonding systems rely heavily on bonding to clean substrates including enamel, dentine, or the smear layer on top of dentine. Any form of contamination of that surface will result in complete failure of the bond. The outcome? Poor results that do not accurately represent your expertise, and unhappy patients! For that reason it is more important than ever to use compressors and air systems that exhibit the correct dew point, no water, and no oil in the air flow.

With this in mind, your choice of compressor can affect your ability to perform modern procedures; perhaps limiting your ability to grow and expand your service offerings. For these reasons it is always worth thoroughly considering how your plan to use your dental compressor both now and in the future.


Overall while the cost of a cheaper compressor will be easier to swallow, it probably won’t be very reliable or able to withstand constant daily use. It will not only be at risk of breaking inconveniently, but can affect the rest of your office too. It will probably require regular maintenance and frequently need replacing, and in the long run it may actually inhibit you and your office.

Not only that, but a poor quality dental compressor can impact your ability to provide a safe, hygienic, and professional service with high-quality results. Or in other words, it may eventually impact your dental reputation.

Finally, while these are the factors that we recommend prioritising, every dental office will be different. Now that you are aware of the importance of making the right choice, look out for our next blog covering how to select the right one for you.

For any questions or queries regarding dental compressors and air systems, please do get in contact with a member of the team at Chromalytic!

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