Dental Air Quality Testing

What is dental air Quality Testing

The Quality testing of dental air is widely discussed with some confusion surrounding it.  It has various identities within professional circles with, Air Purity Tests, Pharmaceutical Air Tests  and Quality Air Checks, all being used to describe the testing process.  The testing performed would verify the Identity, Purity and Quality of the air produced against the European Pharmacopoeia standard, used to define the quality of the dental air.

Why test dental air for quality?

Many leading manufacturers of dental air compressors recommend, at least, an annual Quality test as part of the equipments Planned Preventative Maintenance schedule to ensure;

  • you minimise the risk to the system by micro organism – a potential infection risk to patients. “Wet air” in compressed air systems can cause damage to filters, increasing the risk of microbial contamination
  •  you improve the efficiency and working life of dental instruments – corrosion caused by excess water
  • you maximise the efficiency of dental composites – any particulate contamination can cause an uneven bonding surface.
  • electrical micro motor instruments can suffer damage from the use of cooling air contaminated with high levels of water and/or oil

As a minimum dental surgeries should have a Planned and Preventative Maintenance (PPM) programme in place to ensure the compressor is functioning to its optimum. This will include daily, weekly and monthly maintenance tasks and a 3 to 6 monthly servicing agreement with an external contractor. For insurance purposes an annual pressure vessel inspection by a registered Competent Person will also be carried out.The servicing visits will visually inspect for any damage to the compressor filters or fittings, replacing with new certified components as required. An annual Dental Air Quality Test as part of the PPM schedule will give assurance that the PPM on the compressor is effective and the compressor is emitting air of the relevant standard for reducing risk to both patients and equipment.

Is testing a statutory requirement? 

The testing of air emitting from a dental compressor is not a statutory requirement within the NHS hospital environment, orthodontists or operating theatres at this time. However if an incident was to occur it would be the dental surgeries responsibility to explain why the NHS guidance document was not implemented.

The NHS guidance document (Health Technical Memorandum 2022 Supplement 1) discusses dental compressed air and provides further details of the management and quality requirements for dental surgeries in hospital settings. HTM2022Supp1update_cover Private surgeries are not required to conform to the NHS guidance document HTM 2022 Supplement 1 but this document provides excellent guidance as to the management and quality of compressed air that should be supplied to any surgery. Best practice demands that air used in dental surgeries is free from the contaminants mentioned above. The HTM 2022 Supplement 1 Guidance document is under review in consultation with the BDA.

iOQ Services conducts each testing in accordance with the HTM 0201 guidance document – for Piped Medical Gas Systems and to the European Standard for the Quality of dental air.

800w-geotech_g210_img_9067All tests are performed as per a test method statement, using certified equipment, gases and detector tubes. Each compressor receives a certificate of compliance if testing is successfully completed. If unsuccessful a report will detail possible deficiencies and suggest corrective action.

Other Services available:

  •  iOQ Services can conduct site compliance audits using the HTM guidance documents and compile a report on any findings. Looking at compressor sitting, capacity and delivery systems.
  • Microbial testing on compressed air is available using specialist equipment and an external microbial laboratory to incubate,identify and report on samples. iOQ Services has the experience and training with a background in environmental monitoring in pharmaceutical clean rooms for the NHS.