The Dentist's Guide to Dental Equipment Repair
Dental equipment is a significant capital investment for a dental practice, so it’s important to keep it functional as long as possible. Of course, typical wear and tear on machines and other equipment can necessitate occasional repairs in addition to regularly scheduled maintenance. And both require the services of a skilled dental equipment repair technician.
Here’s how to find a trustworthy repair person for your dental equipment.
1. Identify the problem
As best as you are able, try to determine what’s not working. Try to remember when your equipment began having problems and whether anything may have happened that could have caused a problem—perhaps the last patient or the cleaning crew. Having a sense of what might be wrong will help when you describe the issue to a potential technician. You might even be able to address the problem yourself if you know the cause.
2. Check the warranty
If the equipment in question is a relatively new purchase, you may still be covered by a warranty—either from the manufacturer or retailer—for parts and labor. New dental chairs, for instance, typically come with 5-year manufacturer warranties. Dental Planet provides 1-year warranties for refurbished equipment and offers extended warranties for some equipment. “One additional year is ten percent of the sale price, so it would cost $299 for a three-thousand-dollar chair,” Nick Smith of Dental Planet says. “There are more than a hundred parts that would cost more than $299 otherwise.”
3. Consult the supplier or manufacturer
Many dental equipment retailers offer phone and online support for the products they sell. “Our techs will ask a few questions and can do some basic troubleshooting,” Smith says. “If the equipment can be fixed with the help of our techs over the phone, you won’t have to pay for a tech to come to your office. We’ll eliminate some issues that can be dealt with simply.”
4. Get recommendations for technicians
If you cannot determine and fix the problem with your equipment yourself, you’ll need to call a technician. Good dental equipment technicians have the following qualities:
- Good listeners
- Effective communicators
One reason to buy dental equipment from a trusted retailer like Dental Planet is that they can help you find a professional dental equipment repair technician in your area. Dental Planet maintains an extensive directory of trusted repair technicians and can make recommendations based on their customers’ previous experiences with them. “We take dentists’ feedback very seriously,” Smith says. “We base our recommendations on talking with the technicians, a questionnaire we have them fill out, and the feedback we get from dentists who have hired them.”
5. Make sure the repair technician listens to you
The technicians Dental Planet recommends can quickly assess the problem and provide a plan. “A good tech is eager to help, will offer an honest opinion, and won’t simply try to sell you a new piece of equipment,” Smith says. “They shouldn’t have a sales quota.” If you do feel like a technician isn’t looking out for your best interest or has an ulterior motive for the course of action he suggests, get a second opinion from a different technician.
6. Repair versus buy new
In some cases, fixing broken equipment may cost more in the long run than buying a newer model, especially as older replacement parts can be harder and more expensive to acquire for a repair. An experienced technician will consider your professional needs and help you decide whether to spend money to fix what’s broken or to buy new equipment. Of course, if an item can’t be fixed, buying a new one is necessary—but a good technician will talk you through your options.
Typical lifespans of dental equipment:
- Dental chair: 15 years
- Operating stool: 15 years
- Handpiece: 3 years
- Ultrasonic cleaner: 10 years
- Autoclave: 10 years
- Air compressor: 12 years
- Vacuum system: 10 years
With a reliable technician to call for your repairs and maintenance, you’ll minimize the time with malfunctioning or non-working equipment. “We’ve been able to help a lot of dentists who felt like they were cornered into buying something or going with a particular technician service—or nobody,” Smith says. “A lot of folks are relieved and happy to know they have another option.”