Monitoring Dental-Unit-Water-Line Output Water by Current In-office Test Kits

Lal, Sham, Singhrao, Simarjit Kaur orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9573-5963, Bricknell, Matt, Pearce, Mark, Morton, Leslie Hugh Glyn, Ahmed, Waqar orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-4152-5172 and Crean, Stjohn orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9336-8549 (2014) Monitoring Dental-Unit-Water-Line Output Water by Current In-office Test Kits. Current Microbiology, 69 (2). pp. 135-142.

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The importance of monitoring contamination levels in the output water of dental-unit-water-lines (DUWLs) is essential as they are prone to developing biofilms that may contaminate water that is used to treat patients, with opportunistic pathogens such as species of Legionella, Pseudomonas and others. Dentists and practice staff are also at risk of being infected by means of cross-infection due to aerosols generated from DUWL water. The unit of measurement for the microbial contamination of water by aerobic mesophilic heterotrophic bacteria is the colonyforming unit per millilitre (cfu/ml) of water. The UK has its own guidelines set by the Department of Health for water discharged from DUWL to be between 100 and 200 cfu/ml of water. The benchmark or accepted standard laboratory test is by microbiological culture on R2A agar plates. However, this is costly and not convenient for routine testing in dental practices. A number of commercial indicator tests are used in dental surgeries, but they were not developed for the dental market and serve only to indicate gross levels of contamination when used outside of the manufacturer’s recommended incubation period. The aim of this article is to briefly review the universal problem of DUWL contamination with microbial biofilms and to update dental professionals on the availability of currently available commercial in-office monitoring systems for aerobic mesophilic heterotrophic bacteria and to discuss their limitations for testing water samples in assuring compliance with recommended guidelines.

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