Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dental Waterline Asepsis

Potable water in the United States and Canada has a health standard of less than 500cfu (colony forming units)/ml to be considered safe for drinking. Believe it or not the water that is expelled from non-treated dental lines can be upwards of 1 MILLION cfu/ml!

Why is that dental units can have such a high incidence of bacteria that they would surpass the bacterial load in your toilet? The water lines in your house have large diameters of ½ inch to 1 inch. Dental water lines on the other hand have lumens that are measured in the millimeters. These small diameters are exceptionally great breeding grounds for all sorts of bacteria.

In 1995 the American Dental association put out a release encouraging the industry and researchers to improve water unit output to less than 200 cfu/ml. This is a similar standard in Dialyslate, one of the fluids used in dialysis.

Subsequent to this one of the major changes with newer dental offices units has been the introduction of a bottled water system. Prior to this dental offices received their water from city water lines and the only way to “sterilize” the water was to introduce an iodine filter into the line prior to it entering the dental unit.  The problem with this method is that it often has the undesirable side effect of making the water taste like diluted iodine…. mmmm…. not so great.

Some offices have no protocols in place to sterilize the water and up until recently their was no direct causal evidence that these extremely high bacterial loads posed a tangible health risk. But in 2012, a report in the Lancet, chronicled an 82 year old woman who passed away after developing Legionaires disease – a respiratory illness associated with exposure to L. pneumophilia. The inception of the disease was linked back to her dental office because she had only left her house twice in over a month and both times was to visit her dental office. The report drew worldwide attention and was picked by ABC news and other agencies. Despite immediate treatment with antibiotics the woman developed immediate and irreversible septic shock and died within two days.

This story should have been a shock to all dental offices and forced nationwide change in waterline maintenance. Unfortunately; change takes time and as a profession we are still waiting on mandated changes to infection control with respect to water treatment.

In an effort to be proactive at our clinic we have chosen to protect our patients the best way possible by introducing a daily and monthly waterline treatment developed by the German company Hu-Friedy.  Ultimately this was a win-win for us as we get to make sure our water is as pure as it can be and it tastes great too!

1 comment:

  1. Oh that sounds truly fantastic, keeping the teeth clean leads to healthy teeth.. Thanks for sharing such a helpful post with us...

    Dentist in Mumbai