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5/31/2018 » 6/3/2018
2018 OSAP Annual Conference

Dental Unit Waterlines Archived Through 2012
 FAQ - Dental Unit Waterlines - Archived Through 2012



Is there any regulation on the type of water that should be used for oral surgery? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that:
Sterile solutions (e.g., sterile saline or sterile water) should be used as a coolant/irrigation in the performance of oral surgical procedures where a greater opportunity exists for entry of microorganisms, exogenous and endogenous, into the vascular system and other normally sterile areas that support the oral cavity (e.g., bone or subcutaneous tissue) and increased potential exists for localized or systemic infection (see Oral Surgical Procedures). Conventional dental units cannot reliably deliver sterile water even when equipped with independent water reservoirs because the water-bearing pathway cannot be reliably sterilized. Delivery devices (e.g., bulb syringe or sterile, single-use disposable products) should be used to deliver sterile water (2,121). Oral surgery and implant handpieces, as well as ultrasonic scalers, are commercially available that bypass the dental unit to deliver sterile water or other solutions by using single-use disposable or sterilizable tubing (316). (1)
No federal regulation exists that requires this recommendation be followed, however, for individual states that have adopted the CDC guidelines in compliance with federal legislation, this recommendation may be required. The state licensing agency is the appropriate authority to contact for local regulations (2).


(1) US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings --- 2003. MMWR Morbid Mortal Weekly Rep 2003;52(RR17):1-61. Available at
(2) The Dental Student Network list of state licensing agencies. Available at







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