In the past, dental vacuum systems were large, heavy, industrial machines that had a large footprint, and were most often tucked away in a dedicated area in the basement or a utility room. Most industrial technologies have improved significantly over the past few decades; dry vacuum systems are not only much quieter, but also much smaller.
The dental dry vac pumps currently available are typically similar in footprint or smaller than the wet vac that they replace. Dry vacs, unlike wet vacs, require an air/water separator to hold the collected debris. A 6-12 gallon tank can be attached to the motor or installed at any location in the plumbing system. This tank drains any material it collects automatically.
Many of the currently available dry vacs utilize oil in their motors for lubrication and cooling, much like a car. The “oil” dry vacs therefore exhaust oil vapors which pollute their immediate environment. The also require regular oil maintenance. The newer dental dry vacs can create powerful vacuum without using oil. Carbon fiber vanes eliminate the need for oil in the process. There are no oil levels to check, no oil to add, no oil to change, and most importantly, no oil in the exhaust that can be harmful to people and animals, and can cause severe damage to a roof or building exterior.
Some “dry” vacuum systems offer a unique air-water separator. There is a compact plastic air-water separator that collects liquids and drains them efficiently into a small 20 gallon pail. Working with a gravity drain design, the tank drains every time the pump is shut off. The smaller tank drains more frequently, reducing the odors that are often synonymous with dental evacuation systems. This also eliminates the need for cleaning (something that every staff member will appreciate). Should the tank require draining during the day, the cycle takes approximately 6 minutes.
Earlier dental dry vac systems were powered by regenerative blower style motors that generated “jet engine” noise levels. The newer dry vacuum systems are powered by direct drive electric motors and carbon fiber vanes. They exhibit noise levels that are similar to that of a high speed dental handpiece without the high pitch. These dramatic improvements to the decibel output permit these systems to be installed in small closets and even under lab counters, without disturbing the patients, dentist or dental staff.
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