Don’t know what to do about your waterlines over the holidays?

As the holidays draw near, the question that we are hearing more and more is “How should we protect our dental water lines from bacterial growth over an extended break for the holidays?”

The simple answer if you are a smaller practice with independent water bottle systems, is to simply purge each water line and leave them open to let dry over the break. It is still recommended that you shock-treat your lines before resuming normal operations after returning.

But what if your chairs are plumbed directly to a municipal water source or if there are so many chairs that purging and drying each chair would take an enormous amount of time?

Well, some dental water treatment tablets or straws and even some central water treatment systems use a residual disinfectant that remains in the water and continuously disinfects for up to two weeks. Read the label of your products carefully to see how long it is rated to maintain water lines to below the 500 CFU/ml guideline. This information should be clearly stated in the product’s EPA registered instructions for use.

If you are lucky enough to have a more modern chair outfitted with antimicrobial tubing such as BioFree tubing from Sterisil, Inc. then it may actually be beneficial to let your water stay stagnant in the lines over the break. A study conducted by Loma Linda University School of Dentistry in 2003 found that water that was allowed to sit stagnant in antimicrobial tubing for 96 hours was actually cleaner than the source water that it was supplied from. The study injected contaminated water with over 1 million CFU/ml in to BioFree tubing and let sit for 96 hours. The study concluded that after 96 hours, the bacteria load in the water was reduced by 97.66 %. Some dental water treatment products are even EPA registered to recharge antimicrobial tubing and will enable you to leave water stagnant in lines for over one month at a time. Plenty of time for that extended holiday vacation!

Loma Linda Study Number: LLUSD-RS-0304

Adrian Chynoweth