Opening a dental practice costs a lot of money, usually and equipment makes up the bulk of the outlay. Modern dentistry requires a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment to ensure the best possible results for patients, with the minimum of discomfort. But X-ray machines, dental tomographs, handpieces, dental chairs, storage, and cleaning facilities can break the bank, especially if a practice is starting out with a limited budget. For this reason, many dentists are turning to used equipment as a solution. But with second-hand equipment comes advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look. 


The most obvious advantage of buying used equipment is the cost. Often used equipment can be found two or three times cheaper than new, an enormous saving, especially for a new business. Second-hand equipment isn’t synonymous with faulty or low-quality, and with a little research and patience, it’s possible to find high-quality goods that will last for years. 

Often, second-hand dental equipment will have a valid warranty, and all the advantages that come with that – are being able to service the equipment without spending more money. There may be some red tape to transfer the warranty when buying secondhand. 

Due to the need for robust equipment, many tools and machines for dentistry are extremely hard-wearing and reliable, meaning that the second-hand market is full of items that will last a long time. Some regions have legislation regarding the sale and purchase of used dental equipment, where it is certified. But if your region doesn’t have this it is wise to have your purchases examined by a specialist – this makes it less likely you’ll be tricked into buying inferior equipment. 


It’s shown that most faults appear in dental equipment during the first year or two of use, which means that you will probably encounter poor-quality tools during your search. Partially functioning items compromise the care you’re able to extend to your patients, and as dental treatment is one of the most expensive areas of medical care, this will likely lose you, customers. 

As mentioned above, there are ways to avoid fraudsters, but they are out there, and you should carefully check the condition and functionality of whatever equipment you’re buying. It’s also preferable to purchase directly from another practice, or from a reseller that has expertise in the field of dentistry – buying from a third party with no knowledge of the equipment could lead to inadvertently purchasing poor quality or faulty equipment. 

Caring for your equipment

Whether your equipment has been purchased new or secondhand, care and maintenance are essential for the longevity and functionality of the items. Different types of equipment require different levels of care. 


A dentist relies on a variety of handpieces to complete routine checkups and more complex operations. Handpieces serve a wide range of functions, from drilling to filling, but regardless of their usage, they need proper care and attention to function long-term and provide the best possible service to patients. 

It goes without saying that any equipment that goes into a patient’s mouth needs to be cleaned and flushed after each use. But there are many other steps to take to make sure your handpieces are properly looked after, such as cleaning fiber optics, sterilizing, and drying in a controlled environment. Most equipment failures boil down to a lack of care, rather than an existing fault in the item. 

Dental X-ray machines

Radiographic equipment is more sophisticated than ever and safer in terms of radiation. A properly cared for machine will produce the best, most detailed images, and will have a long life.  It should have a routine quality assurance test completed at least once every 3 years (annually for a hand-held set), or a critical examination and acceptance test when it has a major component replaced such as a tube head or a timer or following a move. Depending on your region various legislation should cover the operation and maintenance of X-ray equipment – this will prevent accidental or dangerous exposures, and justify that each exposure contains benefits that outweigh the risk. 

If you do your research and enlist the help of experts to check your purchases, buying second-hand dental equipment can be a real money saver – and most importantly, doesn’t have to compromise the quality of your care.