Recent Advances in Waterline Infection Control

clean waterlines for dental office

In years past, dental hygienists have not often considered the act of infection control within water lines for in-house dental units as their responsibility; however, this activity is critical to both the safety of patients and the practitioner.

Today, there are numerous choices available on the market when it comes to disinfection products for dental unit water lines. Until recently, the main area of focus on personal protection pieces and equipment, disinfection products for surfaces within the practice, and the care of instruments. The main focus remained on running efficiently, not infection control. When it came to water lines, the most that needed to be done was to drop a tablet in the bottle.

Studies conducted in the past few years have concluded that more is needed when it comes to water lines as these regions often experience bouts of biofilm growth. As a result of this fact, recent advances in infection control of water lines help dental hygienists ensure patient safety.

Why Dental Waterline Disinfection is Important

While the focus on dental waterline disinfection has grown in the past few years, it has actually been considered to be of highest importance since the year of 1963. This is when contamination was originally discovered in dental water bottles.

It was determined that water treatments that contained over 500 CFU/ml not only put patients, but dental hygienists at risk for the development of illnesses that were bacterial and fungal-based.

As time progressed, medical professionals established that individuals that were immune-compromised stood to experience a multitude of complications when exposed to water line contaminants in the dental environment. In 2012, an Italian woman aged 82 died from L. pneumophila pneumonia. The illness was directly linked to contaminated water lines in a dental facility.

Dental waterline disinfection is critical because contaminants not only have the ability to sicken those exposed, but, they may be potentially life-threatening, too.

CDC Guidelines

In order to ensure that dental line water units are delivering healthy water, the Centers for Disease Control has issued the following outlines:

  1. All water used in dental lines must meet the EPA standards considered to be appropriate for drinking water. This means that the water should include less than 500 CFU/ml when it comes to the heterotrophic-based plate count.
  2. After each patient’s procedure has been completed, the dental facility should discharge both the air and the water from the dental lines for a period of up to 30 seconds from each instrument that has come in contact with the patient’s mouth.
  3. When determining the maintenance of the dental water lines and the instruments that connect to those lines, the manufacturer of the devices should be contacted to establish the schedule of such maintenance.

When your dental lines are delivering top-quality water, free of contaminants, and are working optimally, you are ensuring your safety and the safety of your patients.  You also want to keep your handpieces running in top condition. Contact us at Hughes Dental Repair for all your handpiece needs!