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FAQ- Practice Safety/Patient Safety -2015
 FAQ - Practice Safety/Patient Safety - 2015



So I am aware of the CDC recommendation of 500 CFUs for the delivery of water from dental units, but are there any recommendations for the quality of air that is delivered from a dental unit (i.e. from a triplex syringe)?

In general regarding dental unit air quality, there is ANSI/ADA Standard No. 94 Dental Compressed Air Quality. More information about that standard can be obtained from the American Dental Association which also has copies of the standard available for purchase at . 1

Additionally, Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team states as follows:

Dental Unit Air

Very little is known about the microbial quality of dental unit air compared to dental unit water. However, this air contains much fewer microbes than the water, but it is not sterile. As shown in Figure 14-2, the handpiece air line appears clean compared to the biofilm present in the adjacent water line. The air taken into the compressor may contain some bacteria, and these bacteria may be able to multiply in the moisture that can accumulate in the bottom of the air tanks. As air is compressed moisture is “squeezed out” and settles to the bottom of the air tank. Although air from the dental compressor is filtered, the filters may not be able to remove all the bacteria present. 2

Practical Infection Control In Dentistry states as follows:

Microbial Quality of Dental Compressed Air

Although the process of air compression is lethal to microorganisms, moisture condensing in air lines can create conditions hospitable to the growth of bacteria and fungi. Keeping air lines dry appears to be the best means to prevent growth of microorganisms from occurring. Dental offices should install oil-free compressors with either desiccant or refrigerant dryers designed specifically for medical or dental applications. Periodic maintenance must be performed as directed by the manufacturer to assure optimum performance. 3

Regarding specific equipment, Ask OSAP would also like to note that it does not review, evaluate, certify, recommend or endorse products. Ask OSAP also does not provide technical support for specific products. If you have further questions about procedures and specific products it is recommended that you consult with the manufacturer’s written instruction manual and/or contact directly the manufacturer of your product (i.e, triplex syringe).


1)     American Dental Association. ANSI/ADA Standard No. 94 Dental Compressed Air Quality - ADA94-1996.  Accessed on February 9, 2015.

2)     Miller CH. Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, 5th edition. Elsevier/Mosby Publishers. Page 178.

3)     Molinari JA and Harte JA. Practical Infection Control In Dentistry – Third Edition. Wolters Kluwer / Lippincott / Williams & Wilkins. Page 71.




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