Dental Waterline Safety and Infection Control


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How Effective Are Waterline Treatment Products?

Based on the largest dental waterline treatment study to date, which compiled data from over 22,000 consecutive waterline tests, here are some notable findings about the efficacy of waterline maintenance products:

31% of All Dental Unit Waterline Treatments Failed to Pass Water Quality Testing.*

Takeaway: Even if you think you’re using an effective treatment regimen, you can’t be certain without routinely testing lines to ensure they meet CDC/EPA safety standards of ≤500 CFU/mL.

*Represents treatments performed with all possible product combinations.

 23% of Tablet Treatments Failed Testing Without an Accompanying Shock Treatment.

Takeaway: Most practices only use continuous treatment tablets, but these products should always be paired with shock treatments for maximum efficacy.

12% of Tests Were Failed Even After Treatment With Both Tablets and Shock Products.

Takeaway: While a combination of shock and continuous treatment products comprises the most effective waterline maintenance with an 88% test pass rate, no solution is perfect. That’s why it’s crucial to routinely test water quality and reassess your maintenance protocol.


Waterline Safety Essentials

Protecting your patients and practice from dental unit waterline-related hazards means using a combination of different infection control products. To help you stay stocked with the solutions you need, here’s a checklist of the essential products that support waterline safety:

Waterline Maintenance Products

  • Continuous treatment (tablets, straws, or daily liquids)
  • Shock treatment
  • Water quality test kit

Evacuation and Isolation Solutions

  • HVE tips/suctioning mirrors
  • Rubber dental dams (various sizes)
  • Rubber dam accessories (clamps, frames, and forceps)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Eyewear (glasses or goggles)
  • Face shields
  • Masks/respirators
  • Exam gloves
  • Protective clothing (gowns, jackets, or lab coats)

4 Reasons to Use a Rubber Dam

Even though infection control authorities like the CDC and ADA advocate for their use during any spatter- or aerosol generating dental procedure, most general dentists reportedly never use a rubber dental dam. If you’ve been neglecting this important tool, here are four reasons why you should reconsider:

  1. Dams provide isolation and retraction.

By isolating the tooth (or teeth) you’re treating and retracting soft tissue, rubber dams protect the operative site from bacterial contamination, while giving you the visibility and access you need to focus and work efficiently.

  1. Dams keep the treatment site clear and dry.

The bond strength of many restorative materials, like composites and cements, becomes diminished when exposed to moisture. Dams keep moisture at bay and ultimately promote better treatment outcomes.

  1. Dams protect patients from hazards.

Because dams safeguard the patient’s airway and oral mucosa, they minimize the risk of injury to soft tissue as well as aspiration of small instruments, restorative debris, and other harmful materials.

  1. Dams reduce spatter and aerosol production.

Multiple studies show that dams are highly effective at reducing the spread of spatter and aerosols generated by dental treatment, and greatly mitigate the risk of operatory surface contamination and cross-transmission.

Patterson Dental

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Patterson Dental

At Patterson Dental, we are committed to partnering with dental practices of all sizes to help oral health professionals practice extraordinary dentistry. We do this by living up to our promise of Trusted Expertise, Unrivaled Support every day.


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