| FAQ - Dental Unit Waterlines - Archived Through 2012
Our dental offices are currently using a self-contained (distilled) water system on each dental unit and we are using a weekly waterline treatment (Sterilex) according to manufacturer's instructions. Do we also need to periodically use a testing device? If so, how often? And can you supply me with some resources to research such devices?
Ask OSAP does not recommend, endorse, nor promote products, however, we can provide you with general information concerning dental water line testing. Currently, we are not aware of any regulations that mandate dental unit water (DUW) be tested only through a qualified lab. Although that is an option, in-office testing is available to dental facilities.
The authors of From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines state that you should consult the manufacturer of your dental unit or water delivery system to find out how to best maintain treatment water quality (less than 500 CFU/mL) and how often to monitor dental unit water. (1)
The Center's For Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Settings also state that dentists should consult with the manufacturer of their dental unit or water delivery system to determine the best method for maintaining acceptable water quality (i.e., <500 CFU/mL) and the recommended frequency of monitoring. (2)
Monitoring the dental water quality can be performed by using commercial water-testing laboratories. Some laboratories provide specialized services to the dental profession, but any commercial water-testing lab can enumerate water bacteria present in a sample. Another option is to perform self-water testing using in-office test kits.
Further information on in-office water testing kits/testing samplers may be obtained from the following companies:
1. Millipore Corp.:
OSAP provides a great deal of information concerning dental unit waterlines, including links to additional resources. The information may be viewed at:
OSAP's FAQ's concerning dental unit waterlines may be viewed at:
Additional information may be viewed at:
1) The United States Air Force Dental Evaluation & Consultation Service also provides information on DUW and products that may be viewed at:
2) The American Dental Association has additional information that may be viewed at:
3) An excellent article, "Infection Control Report: Waterlines, Striving For Clean Lines", by Chris Miller, PhD appears in the September 2003 issue of Dental Products Report. This is a free monthly publication and the articles are also posted on their website.
The dental products report is a free service, however, you must register first to gain access to the articles.
1) From Policy to Practice: OSAP's Guide to the Guidelines. Published by OSAP.
2) CDC: Infection Control Guidelines for Dental Healthcare Facilities: