15 Mar 2016
By charlotte.cash

Compressors should comply with the Health and Safety Regulations 1999, the Pressure System Safety Regulation 2000 and the Pressure Equipment Regulations 1999. A dental air compressor pressurises air and provides a power source for dental instruments that can be used in procedures. The compressed air is used in the 3 in1, large/small aspirators and hand pieces.

Compressors should effectively remove water vapours immediately after the compression of the air. This will ensure that the conditions for the survival of bacteria can be eliminated before the compressed air reaches the receiver of the compressor. Compressors that are oil free are recommended and those equipped with a compressed air dryer.

A compressor can be fitted to an individual chair in the surgery or a central one placed for the use of multiple chairs. When setting up the compressor the location needs to be controlled to prevent it from overheating, contamination of the air supply or be damaged in freezing temperatures. The placing is also vital because there needs to be sufficient room around the compressor for easy access when maintenance is carried out and it needs to be in a well ventilated area which is cool and dry. The temperature should be on average 10-35*C.

A compressor needs to be installed by a competent person who is certified under BS EN ISO 9000, the compressor will then need to be maintained on a regular basis. Training should be provided to all staff by a competent person on required checks, this should be recorded and then subject to annual review. The competent person should have a risk assessment in place to ensure that appropriate emergency provision is available if the compressor is to break down. All faults, repairs and service sheets need to be kept in the equipment file.


Manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed according each individual compressor.

The checks can be:


  • Clean filters and do not dispose of waste down drains
  • Place a disinfecting agent through aspirators and spittoon at end of the day
  • Turn off compressor


  • Empty receiver of all air compressors that are not fitted with auto drains
  • Check oil levels on oil compressors


  • Inspect filters and change if required.

Every 2 year’s inspection /maintenance of the compressor is deemed as appropriate.

(For further guidance visit the Dental Compressed Air and Vacuum Systems HTM 2022)


Very informative and good tips on daily and weekly checks

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