The DSO Utility Room: “Out of Sight & Out of Mind” Until….

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If you are an owner of a regional DSO, a COO, or director of facilities for a national DSO, you know how it feels to receive that dreaded call. “Please help….Our office is down! We cancelled patients for the rest of the day and tomorrow!” Should a dental chair break, or dental unit begin to malfunction, a practice can continue to see patients in other operatories. However, when your dental vacuum or air compressor malfunctions/fails, your practice is at the mercy of service technicians, equipment loaner availability, or even a new replacement unit. With today’s labor and supply chain situation, all of these quick fixes are iffy at best. Fortunately, dental vacuum and compressor emergencies may be prevented by choosing proper equipment, monitoring it regularly, and practicing preventative maintenance. These small steps allow you to become proactive instead of reactive when caring for the heart and lungs of your practices.

Dental Suction: Preventing DSO revenue from going down the drain!

Size does make a difference when dealing with vacuum performance and longevity. Vacuum trunklines vary in circumference based on what was placed at the time of construction, the type of vacuum system used and the build-up of procedural debris. Wet vacuum systems traditionally require 3/4 inch – 1.5-inch diameter trunklines. Dry vacuums require much larger diameters, ranging from 2 to 4 inches. Throughout the day, bonding agents, pumice, cements, and blood can accumulate inside the dental vacuum lines. The buildup of these materials over time will reduce the internal size of plumbing lines and have a direct effect on how hard your vacuum is working and how long it will last. The size of the line is also critical to suction performance. Dental suction is measured by SCFM, which is flow and Hg, which is power. Would you try to drink a milkshake with a coffee straw?

The daily use of an engineered line cleaning device like the Monarch Clean Stream “Vortex” Dispenser, is essential to keep the lines free of debris. This type of device allows for air to mix with line cleaner, and thoroughly clean 360 degrees of the interior piping. Unfortunately, we see many offices using a “water bucket method” where the HVE is dipped into the solution. This method will not effectively clean the entire pipeline and creates a “water slug” which can cause severe damage to the wet vacuum motor and impeller. We also see the wrong type of solutions being used in offices to clean the evacuation lines. High foaming cleaners can build up inside the dry vacuum tank and get sucked into the motor which can cause the motor to eventually fail. In some cases, offices will install an HVE in the sterilization center. This is commonly used to evacuate the ultrasonic solution and other solutions. To protect your vacuum, make sure you are using a low foaming ultrasonic agent like 4+ Enzymatic Cleaner by Air Techniques.

Why is motor redundancy important for DSOs? Unfortunately, all dental vacuum systems are not perfect. Vacuum systems will eventually fail due to wear and tear and as mentioned above, is accelerated by poor maintenance protocols. Dental offices that only have a single motor system, may be forced to cancel patients immediately, losing $15,000 per day or more in revenue. Question, “would you be more comfortable flying on a plane to the Bahamas with one engine or two? The Air Techniques Mojave Dry Vacuum is the only dental vacuum system that can run on multiple motors (up to four motors) on one collection tank system, thus reducing the chance of a single catastrophic motor failure and lost revenue. Lastly, when planning for a new office, the Air Techniques Engineering Team offers custom designed plumbing schematics at no additional charge. These plumbing design sizing plans, along with our industry leading vacuum equipment, will help ensure we create the optimal dental suction environment of 7 to 10 SCFM and 8 to 10 Hg per user.

Dental Air: DSO profits vanishing into thin “AIR”

The air/water syringe, high and low speed handpieces, prophy jets, milling machines, lab equipment, foot pedals for sinks and handpiece cleaning stations, all depend on clean dry air each day in a dental practice. Questions that come up often are, “why is dry, oil-less air needed in dentistry and why are dental compressors more expensive than air compressors at the local hardware store?” The single most important attribute for any dental air compressor is the quality of the air being stored and eventually what enters the patient’s mouth. Bacteria and moisture can contaminate dental preparations and have a devastating effect on the procedural outcome and the patients experience in your practice. Poor quality compressed air can lead to emergencies and failed restorations that will need to be redone, and often at no charge to the patient……

Here are some questions to use as a guide to prevent downtime and to improve outcomes for adhesive procedures:

• Do you change air compressor filters annually?

• Is your compressor oil-less?

• Is your utility room extremely hot? If so, do you use a remote air intake manifold to draw cooler air into the air compressor?

• Have you checked the compressor tank for moisture?

• Is your air compressor running all the time?

• Do you often hear a loud hissing sound coming from the utility room?

• Is the drying system on the air compressor a desiccant system or a membrane system? If it’s a desiccant system and the unit is older than four years, have you replaced the desiccant chamber(s) to remove moisture?

Air Techniques compressors come equipped with bacteria filters that have been independently tested by the SGS Fresenius Institute, showing capture of greater than 99.99995% of all particles regardless of size. In addition, Air Techniques proprietary membrane drying system offers 100% duty cycle while other manufactures rely on single desiccant chambers with only 50% duty cycle, or a dual desiccant chamber with a 75% duty cycle. What is a duty cycle? Imagine you are blowing up a balloon. You breathe in to fill up your lungs and breathe out, pushing air into the balloon until it’s full. That’s a 100% duty cycle of air coming in and going out. Now, imagine you are filling up a balloon and only half of your air is available to fill it up. That would be a 50% cycle. Duty cycle is basically the amount of time the air compressor can run, compared to the time it needs to rest.

• Air Techniques AirStar compressors work on a 100% duty cycle.

• A compressor with a 75% duty cycle rating can run for 45 minutes but will then need to rest for 15 minutes. These units provide adequate working time and require minimal downtime. They can be a good choice for compressors with adsorbent dual desiccant towers. A 50% duty cycle compressor can only run for around 30 minutes and then will have to rest for that same period. This ratio is not recommended for the average dental office. If you are going to use them, I would recommend using it for shorter durations. Constant use could lead to too much downtime while waiting for the compressor tank to fill up again. These units are inexpensive and only include a single desiccant tower. All desiccant drying systems can allow water and bio-carbons such as oil, to enter the tank. This will contaminate the oral cavity and dental handpieces.

As we kick off 2022, the team at Air Techniques looks forward to the highly anticipated introduction of our equipment remote monitoring platform, Vision Monitor! Vision Monitor is a cloud-based platform which will allow Air Techniques Authorized Dealers and DSO partners, to monitor new Air Techniques equipment purchased. It will also give us the ability to retrofit legacy products in the field.

For more information, please contact Director of Special Markets,
Shaun Taylor @ 516-780-1374, or email at

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