Are your practice’s greatest assets in good health?  

When it comes to dental health we know that prevention is better than cure. These are words we tell our patients to live by, but for most, they will only be fully appreciated when a problem occurs.

The same applies to dentists when it comes to maintaining the heath of one of their greatest and hardest working practice assets.

Your team and your patients are two very important elements that make up a successful practice – the third is the equipment needed to provide treatment, care and patient comfort, not to mention help you remain compliant.

When an X ray machine, a suction pump or even dental chair breaks down so will the smooth running of your dental practice.

Chris Bird , equipment sales manager at the , knows only too well the cost to practices caused by a lack of maintenance. He’s called daily by dentists and practice managers panicking when things go wrong and they have a waiting room full of patients waiting to be treated.

To help more practices prevent a panic, Chris shares with us his top tips to keeping some of the most frequently used equipment in the best of health.

Top tip #1: Make sure you, and your patients are sitting comfortably

  • A dental chair can range from £6,000 to £40,000
  • It can last up to 30 years, if maintained
  • Annual servicing is essential

Dental chairs are an essential piece of kit on a very basic level, not including all the technology you can have built into them such as cameras, TVs and implant screens. Your patients need somewhere to sit and be comfortable and you need to be able to position them in the best way to carry out the required treatment. But how much do you care for it? Yes, you’ll clean it regularly for infection control, but rarely do practices arrange routine maintenance.

A dental chair has a lot of moving parts and needs regular check-ups, especially if you’ve invested in a high-tech model where there is often much more that could fail if not serviced. Although the average dental chair is replaced once every 10 to 20 years, I’ve seen chairs in their 30s which are still working effectively. They have obviously been looked after. And while we are on the subject of chairs don’t forget your own. Many dentists buy cheap stools that they sit on all day, rather than a more comfortable ergonomic stool such as a saddle stool. Investing in your own chair will also lessen the risk of developing conditions such as Repetitive Strain Injury(RSI)

Top tip #2: Don’t get sucked into a suction pump panic

  • Suction pumps should be serviced once a year
  • With good maintenance it can last up to a decade

There is no point having a £20k chair and an old suction pump.

You need to clean out the pipework that connects the chair and the pump daily as it constantly gets furred up and will break if you don’t.

It’s a high use and critical piece of dental equipment. In fact, a pump can be used 20 times or more in a day. It rarely gets switched off and because of that it needs regular attention.

But, in my experience, most dentists wait for a pump to break before replacing it. I can understand the logic in doing this, but when something breaks the chances are that it’s at the worst possible moment. However, with regular servicing a major problem can be solved or spotted and dealt with swiftly.

With proper maintenance a suction pump can last up to 10 years. Without care, a dental practice could be spending upwards of £1,7000 to replace it each time.

Top tip #3: Book a closer inspection of your X ray

  • X ray units need to be checked yearly for radiation emissions
  • If cared for a X ray machine can carry on working for 20 years
  • A common fault can be easily repaired, but if left unattended, cost up to £2,400

Your X ray unit will be in constant use and it’s important that they have a yearly service to make sure they are emitting the right amount of radiation.
The most common issue with the unit, which can cost between £1,700 to £2,400, is a loosening of the arm attachment, this can be rectified simply during servicing though.

Prevention is always better than a costly cure.

has a dedicated equipment department which supplies, installs and maintains everything from dental chairs and cabinetry through to the latest digital imaging systems and specialist product catalogues featuring orthodontic, oral hygiene and facial aesthetic product ranges.

It was founded nearly 50 years ago and now employs over 600 people across the UK, including a state-of-the-art automated warehouse at the head office in Witham, Essex, which houses more than 27,000 product lines.

As a member of the British Dental Industry Association, supports the industry’s Counterfeit and Substandard Instruments and Device Initiative (CSIDI). For more information and useful tips on spotting counterfeit dental devices visit