How clean are the dental unit waterlines in your office?
What might be living in your waterlines and what you can do about it.
We have all probably seen at least one news article by now about patients becoming sick, even hospitalized, due to contamination from dental unit waterlines. In a recent news report out of Anaheim, California, a seven-year-old girl, along with nearly two dozen other children, were infected with Mycobacterium abscessus linked to dental unit waterlines after pulpotomy treatments.
Because this bacterium is hard to treat with antibiotics, to combat the infection in this particular seven-year-old, three permanent teeth, one primary tooth and part of her jaw bone had to be removed13. While these outbreaks are rare, no dental office should be taking any chances.
We see a number of immunocompromised patients, even if they, or we, aren’t aware of it. This includes children and geriatric patients. Of course patients with organ transplants can be immunocompromised due to their anti-rejection medications, but so can patients taking medications for autoimmune disorders. For example, patients taking medications for psoriasis or Crohn’s disease may be immunocompromised. When a patient is immunocompromised, their immune system simply cannot fight infection and contaminated dental unit waterline water could pose a risk to them. So that begs the question: How clean are the waterlines in your office, and are you doing enough to keep them that way?
Coming up: What do you need for a clean waterline? What could be living in your waterline right now? How do you keep your waterline clean?