Extraoral Dental Suction System Buying Guide

essential tips you need to know before buying an extraoral dental suction system

The only extraoral dental suction system buying guide dentists need to have.

Extraoral Dental Suction System (or Extraoral Vacuum Aspirator) will be today’s standard of care for most routine parts of oral surgery, whether a dentist is filling a tooth, draining an abscess, or undertaking a more complex operation, such as removing implant procedures. This technology has been available to the dental profession for more than three decades.

Vastly improved technologies have made dental aspirators more efficient in reducing and eliminating aerosol based cross-contamination. But what are the things dentists need to consider when buying?

Below is our ultimate extraoral dental suction system buying guide to help offices make their decision.

1. Power

You may wonder how to determine the power when looking for a strong suction system. Here is a quick guide to help:

  • Ampere (amp) is a measure of power coming into the suction machine from your outlet. The maximum number of amps that can be drawn from most office outlets is 12, so look for a motor with a full 12 amps of draw.
  • Wattage is what you get when you multiply amps and the voltage draw.
  • Air watts is probably the best indicator of an extraoral suction system’s power capability because it factors in resistance to suction. If a system shows anything with more than 1000 air watts is a good indication it will have the power you need for aerosol vacuum aspiration.

2. Noise

The best way to compare noise levels is to check the product specifications or ask an advisor for the decibel level (dB). An extraoral suction unit with a decibel level in the 60-65 dB range will be reasonably quiet. A system with a decibel level in the 70’s is about the same as the sound generated by a kitchen garbage disposal.

Extraoral dental suction system buying guide: Noise level comparison - the decibel scale. An extraoral dental suction system with a 60-65 dB range is reasonably quiet.

3. Removing aerosols

Without a strong extraoral dental suction unit, cooling spray from fast-running and ultrasonic instruments can cause an aerosol cloud to spread throughout the entire treatment room. An aspirator performance of at least 3000 L/min can result in efficiently reducing the risk of infection. 

It is important that the spray mist becomes aspirated within the patient’s mouth, so that no aerosol can be emitted in the first place. Thus, we recommend using the extraoral suction system along with a strong intraoral suction system. Because what does not leave the mouth, does not have to be eliminated afterwards. Using the correct intraoral suction along with an effective extraoral suction can make an important contribution to infection protection for the dentist, the surgery team and the patient.

4. Filters

The most important part in our extraoral dental suction system buying guide, what types of filters you should look for when choosing? The most common type is HEPA filter. Some suction systems on the market also use activated carbon.

4.1. HEPA filters

What is a HEPA filter?

HEPA is a type of pleated mechanical air filter. It is an acronym for “high efficiency particulate air” (as officially defined by the U.S. Dept. of Energy). This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (μm). You can find this information on the US EPA website at www.epa.gov.

The diameter specification of 0.3 microns responds to the worst case – the most penetrating particle size (MPPS). Particles that are larger or smaller are trapped with even higher efficiency. Using the worst-case particle size results in the worst-case efficiency rating (i.e. 99.97% or better for all particle sizes).

HEPA filter

Why 0.3 microns?

Filters meeting the HEPA standard must satisfy certain levels of efficiency. Common standards require that a HEPA air filter must remove—from the air that passes through—at least 99.95% (European Standard) or 99.97% (ASME, U.S. DOE(US Standard) of particles whose diameter is equal to 0.3 μm; with the filtration efficiency increasing for particle diameters both less than and greater than 0.3 μm. 

extraoral dental suction system buying guide: the filtering efficiency of HEPA filters

That micron size (0.3) is referred to by scientists as the MPPS, or the most penetrating particle size. Scientists have found that particles of that size evade air filters more than larger or smaller particles. So it would be safe to say that HEPA’s filtration of 0.3 microns is more a reference of it meeting the standards than a reference to its limitation. In fact, several studies, including the most recent one performed by NASA in 2016, have sited that HEPA filters may be able to filter much smaller than 0.3 microns especially when used in multiple layers or combined with carbon filters. But we will get into that later.

Micron comparison

Spores: 3 – 40 μm

Mold: 3 – 12 μm

Bacteria: 0.5 – 5 μm

Virus: 0.125 – 0.5 μm

microorganisms size comparison in micron

What are HEPA filters made from and how do they work?

Most modern HEPA filters consist of interlaced glass fibers that are twisted and turned in myriad directions to create a fibrous maze. As particles traverse this web, they’re taken out of circulation in the following ways:

  • Direct Impaction: Large contaminants, such as certain types of dust, mold, and pollen, travel in a straight path, collide with a fiber, and stick to it.
  • Sieving: The air stream carries a particle between two fibers, but the particle is larger than the gap, so it becomes ensnared.
  • Interception: Airflow is nimble enough to reroute around fibers, but, thanks to inertia, particles continue on their path and stick to the sides of fibers.
  • Diffusion: Small, ultra-fine particles move more erratically than larger ones, so they’re more likely to hit and stick to fibers
4 ways that HEPA filters stop particles

Where are HEPA filters used?

Like in the Manhattan Project, HEPA filters were originally intended to be used in lab and factory settings. Today, they are used in shops, salons, cars, vacuum cleaners, and air purifiers. But you can most frequently find HEPA filters in hospitals. Bio-Medical HEPA grade filters like those found in PAX suction systems (H13) are a critical item to have for every hospital. A medical grade HEPA filter will be able to filter out 99.995% of all airborne contaminants. 

4.2. Activated carbon filters

What is an activated carbon filter?

Activated carbon filters are small pieces of carbon, typically in granular or powdered block form, that have been treated to be extremely porous. It is so cavernous that just one gram of activated carbon can easily have a surface area of 500m2 or higher. Vast surface area enables these carbon filters to adsorb exponentially more contaminants and allergens than traditional carbon.

Adsorption is a distinct process where organic compounds in the air or water react chemically with the activated carbon, which causes them to stick to the filter. The more porous the activated carbon is, the more contaminants it will capture. These filters are most notably used to remove hazardous compounds in home air purification systems.

activated carbon filters

How do activated carbon filters work?

Contaminated air and saliva enter the suction system, passes through the active carbon, undergoes adsorption, and leaves the filter purified.

How would you benefit from an activated carbon filter?

When used in conjunction with a HEPA filter, the activated carbon works to prevent larger particles like bioaerosols, blood, dust and other particulates from reaching it, enabling the HEPA filter to perform better and last longer.

5. Sterilization

Two methods of sterilization commonly found in extraoral suction machine are UV-C disinfectant and plasma sterilization.

5.1. UV-C

What is UV-C?

UV-C is one of many electromagnetic frequencies emanating from the sun. We’re exposed to parts of the UV spectrum while outdoors. Generally, excessive UV exposure can produce adverse effects depending on wavelength, type and duration, and UV response differences between individuals. The three basic wavelengths:

  • UV-C includes the germicidal wavelength of 253.7nm and is used for air and water disinfection. Human overexposure causes temporary skin redness and harsh eye irritation, but no permanent damage, skin cancer, or cataracts.
  • UV-B is a narrower but more dangerous band of UV. Prolonged exposure has been associated with skin cancer, skin aging, and cataracts (clouding of the lens of the eye).
  • UV-A is more predominant outdoors than the other two. It helps to tan our skin and is used in medicine to treat certain skin disorders. It is generally a harmless wavelength.
The spectrum of light. Which wavelength is most effective for disinfection.

How does it affect germs?

Microorganisms are simple organic structures that readily absorb the UV-C wavelength, causing photo-disassociation (destruction). A microbes DNA is first to be adversely affected due to its weaker molecular bonds. In hundredths of a second it suffers irreparable damage. The subsequent loss of genetic instructions causes cell death and/or the inability to replicate, rendering them harmless. Continuous exposure causes uninterrupted degradation, such as the sun does, only significantly faster.

Does it work?

Yes, scientific and anecdotal references abound for UV-C’s efficacy both in literature and in reports of field applications. Of the government reports, NIOSH, OSHA, CDC, GSA, EPA are the most notable. Science in the public forum comes from the University of Cincinnati, Tulsa University, University of Colorado and McGill University (Canada) to name a few.

For microorganisms, the filter’s goal is to provide a reduction in the total number of viable microbes per “unit volume of air” downstream of it. With the proper filter, UV-C can kill and/or degrade what the filter has caught. Thus, for a given microbe and its products, the filter effect can be an integral part of decontaminating a given area.

5.2. Plasma sterilizer

Plasma is one of the states of matter, along with solid, liquid and gas. The plasma generated by an extraoral suction system is normally “cold”, which means generated in atmospheric conditions. It is created by high frequency electric alternative current, which generates positive and negative ions. These ions will spread on many centimeters and will oxidize the pollutants (VOC -e.g. formaldehyde or benzene-, NOx) and dismantle the walls of virus and bacteria. 

6. Price

Most extraoral dental suction devices range from $999 to $2,999 per unit.

In conclusion

An extraoral suction system will be a vital piece of equipment in every dental office. The right unit can deliver consistent and reliable suction for both routine and emergency care. 

At pH Dental, our FDA-approved PAX2000 Suction System offers a five stage filtration system. It includes four layers of Activated Carbon and HEPA pre-filtration, followed by UV-C light and lastly plasma technology, a VOC filter. We design our PAX2000 to effectively remove and kill bacteria, viruses, VOCs, odors, and harmful particles. Our exceptional system is ideal for keeping providers, patients and staff safe.

To learn more about our PAX2000, please visit: https://phdentalinc.com/extraoral-dental-suction-system/. Don’t forget to share our extraoral dental suction system buying guide to other dentists through social media.

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