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Dental Unit Waterline Cleaning Policy

Purpose: This policy provides infection control recommendations that should be followed to eliminate pathogens that may be present and multiply in dental unit waterlines.

  1. Sterile irrigating solutions shall be used for all surgical procedures that involve the cutting of bone.
  2. When replacing dental units and devices, select products that can economically and reliably maintain water quality.
  3. Cleaning dental unit waterlines shall be done on a bi-weekly basis, using an approved FDA (Food and Drug Administration) product to clean the lines (see Addendum I attached).
  4. For quality assurance purposes, the date of cleaning the waterlines will be recorded in a log book and maintained in each department.
  5. Dental unit waterline sampling will be done on a quarterly basis and reported to the Infection Control Committee. The Department Chair and/or appropriate clinical staff will be notified of any water line showing contamination (greater than 500 cfu/ml).


Fotos P.G., Westfall H.H., Snyder I.S., Miller R.W., Mutchler B.M., Prevalence of Legionella-specific IgG and IgM antibody in a dental clinic population. J. Hosp. Infec. 1985; 64: 1382-5.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA Technical manual TED 1-0.15A, 1999, U.S. Dept. of Labor.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Recommended infection control practices for dentistry, 1993. MMWR 1993; 42(No. RR-8):1-12.

Dental unit waterlines: approaching the year 2000. ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. JADA 1999; 130(11):1653-64.

Mayo J.A., Oetling K.M. and Andrieu S.C.,Bacterial biofilm: a source of contamination in dental air-water syringes. Clin. Prev. Dent. 1990. 12(2): p. 13-20.

Williams H.N., Kelley J., Folineo D., et al. Assessing microbial contamination in clean water dental units and compliance with disinfection protocol. JADA 1994; 125: 1205-11.

Last Modified: 04/30/2010