Is Your Dental Office Safe? Untreated Waterlines In the Dental Office Can Affect Your Health
The next time you go to your dentist’s office, before you let them spray water in your mouth, ask them how, and where their water lines are treated.
The Problem: The flexible lines that go from the water pipes in your dental office to the delivery system at the chairside are made of materials that are the perfect environment for the growth of biofilm. Biofilm is made up of bacteria colonies that adhere to the inner walls of the dental hosing. When not properly treated, these water lines and valves become coated with bacteria that grows exponentially at room temperature and contaminates the water that is used to irrigate and rinse your mouth. This water can be unsafe.
City water, often considered to be safe for consumption, reaches the dental office in potable form. Dental offices, aware of the need for added water quality and safety may even have a water treatment system at the source where the water enters the building. While this proactive measure helps reduce risk, what some dentists don’t realize is that the water that sits in the lines for long periods of time, such as over a weekend, will still grow this dangerous bacterium.
The Risk: Microbacterium Abscessus, a bacterium with a distant relation to the ones that cause tuberculosis and leprosy, can cause infections in patients when contaminated water supplies are used to irrigate the mouth. A simple Google search of “dental practice, water, illness” will result in many articles about lawsuits and unfortunate outcomes to patients including children in Georgia, New Jersey, Virginia, and California.
The Solution: It is not enough to treat the water lines in a dental office as the bacterium can still grow after the fact. Each dental operatory must be treated at the instrumentation that is used on the patients to ensure safety. One such company at the forefront of treating water effectively, above and beyond the EPA, CDC and ADA minimum standard of water quality compliance is Sterisil, Inc. Using Stersil’s latest and best products a dental office can achieve results of < 11 CFU/ml HPC water purity. These are virtually the lowest levels achievable today, and they are well beyond the EPAs recommendation of less than 500 colony forming units (CFU) per milliliter (ml).
Stersil’s solution is a combination of treating the water at entry to the practice and at the dental chair where the instrumentation connects to the flexible water hosing. This takes virtually all risk out of the water supply, ensuring safe water while treating the patient.
Proof: It is your dental office’s obligation to ensure all measures are being taken to assure your safety while in the care of your dental provider. Dentists are to follow guidelines on safety, sanitation, standard of care and product quality. It is your right to know what your dentist is doing to assure your safety. Don’t be afraid to ask your dentist how they treat the water in the office. Ask them where it is treated (at the chair and/or at the utility hook-up). Ask them if they test their water for consumable quality and how often. They should be able to supply test results.