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Article: Volume 44 Number 4 Page 284 - April 2017

  Dent Update 2017; 44: 284-292  Read article

Infection control:  Dental Unit Water Lines and their Disinfection and Management: A Review

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Abstract: The perceived threat to public health from dental unit water line (DUWL) contamination comes from opportunistic and respiratory pathogens such as Legionella spp, Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) and pseudomonads. These organisms can grow and multiply in the DUWL biofilm to reach infective concentrations, with the potential for inhalation leading to respiratory infections or direct contamination of surgical wounds. In this paper we discuss current legislation and practical methods for delivering water within the DUWL that meets the standards for safety.

Clinical relevance: Understanding the clinical relevance and methods for decontaminating DUWL is essential to create a safe working environment in dentistry.

Author notes: Caroline L Pankhurst, BSc, BDS, MSc, PhD, MRCPath(Specialist in Oral Microbiology), Senior Specialist Clinical Teacher (part-time), King’s College London Dental Institute, Crispian Scully, CBE, DSc, DChD, DMed (HC), Dhc(multi), MD, PhD, PhD (HC), FMedSci, MDS, MRCS, BSc, FDS RCS, FDS RCPS, FFD RCSI, FDS RCSEd, FRCPath, FHEA and Lakshman Samaranayake, DSc, DDS, FRCPath, FHKCPath, FDS RCS(Edin), FRACDS, FDS RCPS, Professor Emeritus, University of Hong Kong, SAR China.

Objective: To understand the risks to health from contaminated dental unit water lines (DUWLs) to facilitate the implementation of a protocol for maintaining the water quality of DUWLs in a dental practice.