Mobile Dental Systems Vehicle Design
e. What kind of equipment usually goes on a mobile van?


The equipment that is used on a mobile vehicle is typically the same as equipment utilized in traditional fixed site dental offices. Type and size of equipment will depend to a degree on the patient population. For example, you might consider rear delivery if the population is primarily children.
Click on the links to view specific considerations when selecting each of the following types of dental equipment.

Plan for a minimum of two patient chairs. Although some programs might use a third chair, others might use that space for a panoramic x-ray unit or a larger waiting room or lab. If you have a mixed patient population, it might be better to order chairs that can accommodate both adults and older children, and then use a beanbag chair or other adaptation over the chair when very young children are seen.

Consider equipment fragility. How long will it last when routinely jostled as the vehicle is driven from location to location? Will equipment remain calibrated? Will equipment remain intact with screws and bolts tight? Determine how equipment will be secured. Bungie cords, rubber mats to grip objects to counter surfaces, and items found in stores dedicated to closet organization will be necessities.

Prioritize whether equipment is "essential" or just "nice to have." How does its purchase impact the scope of care or numbers of patients seen? Do a cost-benefit analysis to justify purchases.

When making equipment selections, make these jointly with a local dealer and the engineer, as there may be limitations on size, etc. Ordering equipment from a local dealer and having them "drop ship" it to the manufacturer (rather than having the manufacturer order it) might save money

When choosing dental equipment for a mobile setting, make sure you ask and receive confirmation from the distributor that the equipment should be reliable in this setting.

Purchase equipment with the best warranties you can find. Some dental chairs and delivery units have 5- year warranties. This gives you extra protection of your investment.

The most expensive equipment is not necessarily the most suitable. There are several mid-priced equipment brands with superior reliability, performance, warranties and function that work well in the mobile setting.

If you are choosing to have the van manufacturer purchase and install the dental equipment, you may have difficulty with scheduling and the honoring of warranty repairs. Warranties are valid for the initial purchaser of the equipment so even though you have bought the van including the equipment, the serial numbers and warranty of the dental equipment might only be registered to the van builder. To protect your investment, make sure you have all dental equipment registered to you and warranties applicable to field usage.

The mechanical area is essential. This is where the vacuum and compressor are housed. Some equipment requires additional venting and special fitting. Require the van manufacturer to adhere explicitly to the site preparation specifications provided by the vacuum and compressor manufacturer.

Oiless vacuums and compressors are cleaner and require less maintenance. Vacuums should be dry vacuums not wetring as this will save you from needing to supply extra water and from high water usage.

Metal cabinets do not work as well as wood cabinets as they do not have ‘give' to adapt to the movement of the vehicle. Cabinetry should have adjustable hinges.