Air/water syringe (AWS) tips can be used in any type of dental care. They may be disposable (plastic) or reusable (stainless steel or plastic). We assessed the costs of using both sorts of tips in a French teaching hospital. A systematic use of one AWS tip per dental consultation was considered. Consultations performed with reusable AWS (stainless steel) tips give rise to costs linked to initial purchase of tips, their sterilisation, and replacement. Consultation costs of disposable AWS tips were calculated at their current purchase price. Replacing reusable tips was evaluated in two different situations: annual replacement or replacement in case of visual deterioration. Results showed that the number of consultations must lie beyond a certain threshold in order to make reusable tips more economical in use than disposable counterparts. If the reusable tips are replaced every year, this threshold is higher (e.g.: 1,366 consultations at the University of Bordeaux) than under a rule of tip replacement in case of visual deterioration (e.g. at the Bordeaux University: 1,267 consultations in case  an annual replacement rate of 10%, or 1,289 with a replacement rate of 30%). This is the first study regarding the costs of disposable versus reusable AWS tips. We suggest that disposable tips might be more cost-effective than reusable tips, notably because of their reduced risk of cross-contamination. The choice of the use of one or another AWS tip crucially depends on the number of consultations, as well as on their practical utilisation and on infection control issues.

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