Every dental office needs a dependable, and low-maintenance compressor that can keep your tools running reliably. However, these don’t come cheap and for a new practice these kinds of machines may not be attainable yet.

However, generic air compressors that are used in other workplace settings can be a good placeholder, providing the kind of noise level, portability, and power you need.

Below, you’ll find both the best dental air compressors that deliver on functionality and air quality, as well as more generic compressors that while not suitable for long-time use in a practice will perform well until you can get your hands on a more dentistry-specific compressor. 

Table of Contents

10 Best Air Compressors For Dental Offices

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Providence Dental Air Compressor System

The Providence Dental Air Compressor System 1 HP compressor is a great, affordable option for small practices, and for those who have recently set up a practice.

Delivering enough power for 2 concurrent users, it’s an efficient unit that doesn’t break the bank.

It also operates quietly too, as the V-Twin Pump has a dB of 50 at 10 feet with a recorded max of 72dB. As well as regulators, sound attenuating air filters and isolation feet, it also has a drain that is easy to access.

This makes maintaining the compressor and cleaning it super simple. Meanwhile, it’s compact size and lightweight feel makes it easy to move around.

Pros

  • Great option for burgeoning practices and those on a budget.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Quiet.

Cons

  • Additional accessories double the price.

California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor

While not specified for dentistry, the CAT-1P1060S is a great choice for dental offices. It’s super quiet at 56 decibels, plus at 29lbs it’s lightweight and can easily be transported.

It is also oil-free, meaning less maintenance and additional costs. 

Pros

  • Quiet
  • Oil-free
  • Powerful: This compressor may be lightweight and quiet, but it has a powerful 0.6 pump.
  • Light and portable.

Cons

  • Air pressure not easily adjustable: It may be a challenge to get an exact amount of air pressure.
  • On/off switch at an awkward location.

BOSTITCH Pancake Air Compressor, Oil-Free, 6 Gallon, 150 PSI (BTFP02012)

This oil-free, maintenance-free pump from BOSTITCH is incredibly convenient, as well as powerful. You can also run this pump for a long time thanks to the 150 max PSI 6.0 gallon tank and 90 PSI pump.

Thanks to the high efficiency of the motor, you can easily start this 6 gallon pump whatever the conditions and even with the use of an extension cord.

With a decibel level of 78.5 you’re sure to have a quiet work environment, while the 29lb weight makes the compressor not only easy to carry but easy to store away. 

The BOSTITCH high flow regulator and couplers also help to maximize performance, and the two universal couplers let two users operate the compressor at once.

Pros

  • Easy to start up
  • Portable
  • Easy to store
  • Quiet
  • Long running

Cons

  • Escaping air can be quite loud. 

Makita MAC100Q Quiet Series, 1/2 HP, 1 Gallon Compact, Oil-Free, Electric Air Compressor

As the name suggests, the MAC100Q Quiet Series from Makita is super quiet at only 58 dB. This makes it perfect for indoor use. It also runs at a lower RPM of 1,750 which helps the motor and pump to last longer.

What’s more, it also has complete roll-cage construction so the compressor is protected no matter where you use it, and takes the worry out of storing the already lightweight compressor.

You also don’t have to worry about maintaining the compressor as its oil-free, dual-piston pump makes it virtually maintenance-free.

Pros

  • Oil free and low maintenance.
  • Quickly reaches the right PSI.
  • Quiet
  • Runs at a lower RPM

Cons

  • Slow recovery time

Craftsman 1.5 Gallon 3/4 HP Portable Air Compressor, Max 135 PSI, 1.5 [email protected], Oil Free Air Tank, Electric Air Tool, CMXECXA0200141A

This 1.5 gallon hotdog air tank with a 3 to 4 HP motor is not only portable, but powerful without being overly ferocious.

The max pressure of 135 PSI stores sufficient air in the tank, allowing you to continuously work with your tools and also allows for fast recovery time.

At only 24.1lb, this air compressor from Craftsman is ultra-light and its convenient handle only makes it more portable. It’s compact size of 11.5 x 16.3 x 16.8-inches also make it handy for storing.

As the pump is also oil-free, there is little to no maintenance needed for this compressor, and its Q235b steel housing makes the compressor more durable.

Pros

  • Easy to carry thanks to a well-centered handle.
  • Continuous tool operation.
  • Oil-free for minimum maintenance.

Cons

  • Small size may not be suitable for bigger practices.

Twin-Stack P1IU-A9 2 HP 4 Gallon Portable Air Compressor and Synthetic Lubricant

This Twin-Stack P1IU-A9 2 air compressor is portable and lightweight, and it’s ergonomic design makes it suitable for both DIY as well as professional use.

The front panel is easy to operate, and the low 79 dBA noise level makes it quiet enough for use in a dental office. Its two quick disconnect couplers also let you run multiple tools simultaneously. 

What’s more you also have the option to purchase this compressor with All Season Select lubricant, that is designed to maintain the optimal performance of the Twin-Stack compressor. 

Pros

  • Portable
  • Ergonomic design
  • Able to run multiple tools.
  • Comes with All Season Select lubricant
  • Durable cast iron cylinder ensures longer life.

Cons

  • No sight glass for oil level
  • Requires oil

Rolair AB5Plus

While Rolair isn’t one of the most well-known names on the compressor market, they have in fact been manufacturing reliable, highly-rated compressors since 1959.

The AB5Plus is no exception. It’s not only compact and easy to store away, but also easy to move around.

It’s also durable, as its welded-steel roll cage protects it against bumps. Its two-piston pump also refills the air tank quickly, and the two large gauges are easy to read, so you’ll always know exactly what’s going on inside the pump.

It’s also one of the quietest compressors on this list, operating at just 59 decibels. For some context, that’s about as loud as a normal conversation.

Pros

  • Single-stage and oil-less.
  • Holds 1 gallon of compressed air.
  • Low amp draw, running on 0.5 HP, 1,700 RPM, and 2.8 amps.
  • Lightweight and portable.

Cons

  • The small tank may cycle. 

Senco PC0968

This mid-size 2.5-gallon compact compressor has two side-stacked air tanks and a 1.5HP induction pump motor that goes from 0-135 PSI in just under two minutes.

But despite drawing an impressive amount of power, the motor only draws eight amps of electricity. 

The top-mounted handle also acts like a protective roll-cage. It is well-balanced, which makes lifting and carrying the 38lb unit easy.

The Senco compressor also only has a footprint of 15 x 16 inches, meaning it stores away easily and takes up little space.

Pros

  • Hand-carry design
  • Oil-less
  • Lightweight at only 38lbs
  • Regulator holds consistent pressure

Cons

  • Tank pressure gauge can be hard to read because of its location.
  • Some customers have reported that the compressor’s feet are unlevel which can be quite irritating.

DeWalt Air Compressor 135-PSI Max (D55140)

Despite the D55140 1-gallon compressor being relatively compact, it’s still a heavy duty piece of machinery, protected by a roll cage and rubber feet.

It has a low 2.6 amp motor and a dB rating of 71, making it excellent for use in quiet work environments. The pump is also oil-free and durable, meaning you’ll be using this air compressor in years to come. 

Pros

  • The rubber feet help the compressor to stay stable while reducing noise.
  • Small enough for compact storage.
  • Fills up quickly, only taking about 30 seconds for the 1 gallon tank to fill to 135 PSI.

Cons

  • Some customers have reported some issues with the Universal Quick Connect feature, as sme customers purchased a Universal adapter to find it did not fit the compressor.
  • Some customers also had issues with the regulator leaking.

BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit

BOSTITCH is known for building rugged, contractor-grade compressors and the Air Compressor Combo Kit is no exception. 

The 90 PSI pump allows you to run tools for a long time, and also helps the compressor to recover quickly. The pump is convenient to use and requires little maintenance. The high efficiency motor makes for smooth easy start-up in cold weather and when using an extension cord. 

At 78.5 dBA, this BOSTITCH Air Compressor Combo Kit is also ideal for a quiet work environment.

Pros

  • An upgrade to the previous BTFP02011 model.
  • Lightweight and portable.
  • Comes with two nail drivers. The SB-1850BN 18 GA brad nailer drives 18GA brad nails, while the SB-1664N 16 GA straight finish nail driver drives 16 GA straight finish nails.
  • Oil-free.

Cons

  • While operating at 78.5 dBA, some customers have reported that they still found the compressor a bit too loud.

Buyer’s Guide

As you have seen above, there are a few factors to take into consideration when buying an air compressor, and there are a few factors that are especially important when buying a compressor for a dental office.

While you do not need a dentistry-specific compressor for a dental office (especially if you’re on a budget), there are a couple of factors to bear in mind when looking for a compressor for such a setting.

Below, you’ll find a couple of essential factors to take into consideration when buying a compressor for your dental office.

Performance Ratings (CFM, PSI, And HP)

We’ve mentioned these units quite a lot, and that’s because for most air compressors these basic performance ratings are a direct indicator of power and reliability.

However, this doesn’t mean that dental air compressors need to have high ratings of any of these to be a good compressor.

Dental tools work well with lower CFM ratings, and 80 PSI is also an acceptable rating. Therefore, you don’t need super powerful motors of more than 1-3 HP.

Noise Level

Dentistry requires a lot of precision, so any distraction is not welcome at all – this includes loud noises from a compressor.

Not only do dentists need a relatively quiet environment to concentrate, but loud noises do not put patients at ease either.

If a compressor is too loud it can lead to nervous patients or distracted dentists which – worst case scenario – can very easily lead to accidents, liability issues, and overall poor care.

Air compressors are considered to be relatively silent if they operate in the 60-70 decibels range. If your compressor is louder than that however, acoustic hoods or cabinets can help to reduce noise.

Compressor Size

Knowing how many people will be operating the compressor at a time is good to know when making a purchase.

The compressor’s capacity will indicate just how beneficial it will be to you in your practice. But how can you tell what a compressor’s capacity is? It will be the output in liters per minute (lpm). Most chairs will need around 50 ppm.

If you do buy a compressor that can’t handle the expected duty cycle, then you may end up overworking the compressor.

This leads to wetter compressed air, which will have a negative effect on the air quality, which is our next point.

Air Quality

This is arguably the most important factor when buying a compressor for your dental office. This is because of the risk of exposing patients to pathogens, bacteria, and microorganisms through poor-quality air.

Compressors that produce poor-quality air or air with excessive moisture produce conditions that lead to unwanted contamination.

The compressor dryer system should be able to produce air with a dew-point no less than -20 degrees celsius. 

The filter system should provide dust filtration down to 1 µm with a DOP efficiency of 99.97% or better and bacteria filtration down to 0.01µm with a DOP efficiency of 99.9999% or better.

Value

When we talk about value, we don’t just mean cost. Higher quality tools may cost more, but they are also very reliable and last for a long time.

While cheaper compressors are sometimes the only option when on a budget and can still perform well, sometimes they can be problematic when it comes to noise, air quality, or reliability.

This can lead to buying replacement compressors or spending money on servicing and frequent repairs. These costs can add up, so when buying a compressor consider reliability and durability.

Other Features

Three of the most important components in a dental air compressor will be the purge tank, oil factor, and wet/dry indicators.

The purge tank collects excess material and makes draining easier. It also flushes out excess material safely to avoid contamination.

Most user manuals will recommend draining these tanks daily or after use to reduce moisture build up which can lead to rust and other damage.

Oil filters will remove dirt, sand, rust, and other debris which will not only keep your compressor safe to use, but also help it run for longer.

When oil flow slows or stops, compressors can then run very hot. This can break your compressor, meaning you will have to fork out for expensive repairs, or replace the compressor all together.

This is why regularly cleaning your compressor or replacing the oil is so important.

But even oil-free compressors use oil filters, and this is because gears tend to use gearbox oils that still need filtering so your compressor can operate safely and for years to come.

We’ve mentioned how dryness of the air is crucial to providing the best air quality for your compressor.

Still, malfunctions do happen, and an overworked compressor can run wetter than normal. Wet/dry indicators will let you know when and if you need to dry or clean your compressor. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does a dental air compressor cost?

You can expect to pay anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 for an average dental air compressor, and that’s why sometimes you may need to consider non-dental air compressors for your practice.

How do I deal with water build up?

While most compressors have anti-moisture technology, frequently draining your compressor is still crucial. If collected moisture remains in the tank, then rust and microbes will soon develop, gradually ruining the compressor. 

Can I use a generic compressor in a dental office?

Yes, you can but not without risks. They tend to be cheaper while still offering the power, portability and noise level you need.

However, they are not designed to offer dry, filtered air.

They’re also not built for hygienic work, so are more likely to develop microbes and rust sooner than dental compressors and at a quicker rate. This kind of microbe and bacteria growth can be a health and safety concern. 

They can be a short-term solution, but it’s definitely better to keep your patients safe and protect yourself from liability issues and save up for a dentistry-specific compressor like the Providence Dental Air System or the California Air Tools compressors we’ve mentioned.