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Dental Unit Waterline Toolkit
 Dental Unit Waterline Toolkit

 

OVERVIEW  | REGULATIONS & GUIDELINES | BEST PRACTICES | INSTRUCTIONAL RESOURCES  


Overview

Dental unit waterlines (i.e., plastic tubing that carries water to the high-speed handpiece, air/water syringe,and ultrasonic scaler) promote bacterial growth and development of biofilm due to the presence of long narrow-bore tubing, inconsistent flow rates, and the potential for retraction of oral fluids. Dental healthcare personnel and patients could be placed at risk of adverse health effects if water is not appropriately treated.

All dental units should use systems that treat water to meet drinking water standards (i.e., ≤ 500 CFU/mL of heterotrophic water bacteria). Independent reservoirs—or water-bottle systems—alone are not sufficient. Commercial products and devices are available that can improve the quality of water used in dental treatment. Consult with the dental unit manufacturer for appropriate water maintenance methods and recommendations for monitoring dental water quality. During surgical procedures,1use only sterile solutions as a coolant/irrigant using an appropriate delivery device, such as a sterile bulb syringe, sterile tubing that bypasses dental unit waterlines, or sterile single-use devices. Source: CDC

Regulations & Guidelines
CDC

(1) Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings — 2003

(2) Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care 

(3) Infection Prevention Checklist for Dental Settings Basic Expectations for Safe Care 

ADA

(1) Dental Unit Waterlines

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Best Practices
Key Learnings as of September 2016

Biofilm is a thin, slimy film of bacteria that sticks to moist surfaces, such as those inside dental unit waterlines. Biofilm occurs in dental unit waterlines because of the long, small-diameter tubing and low flow rates used in dentistry, the frequent periods of stagnation, and the potential for retraction of oral fluids. As a result, high numbers of common water bacteria can be found in untreated dental unit water systems. A few disease-causing microorganisms found in untreated dental unit water include Legionella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and nontuberculous Mycobacterium. Dental health care personnel and patients could be placed at risk of adverse health effects if water is not appropriately treated. Source: CDC


OSAP Recommendations to Clinicians

Related Articles

(1) Woman Dies After Contracting Legionnaires' Disease From Dentist's Office

(2) MMWR: Notes from the Field: Mycobacterium abscessus Infections Among Patients of a Pediatric Dentistry Practice — Georgia, 2015

FAQ's

Dental Unit Waterlines: Questions and Answers

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Instructional Resources
PowerPoint

(1) Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings — 2003


Glossary of Terminology

  For the Dentist - Message to My Patients

Fact Sheet

Dental Unit Water Line Fact Sheet
  Troubleshooting Dental Water Quality Problems 
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