A review of the science regarding dental unit waterlines

Louis G. DePaola, Dennis Mangan, Shannon E. Mills, William Costerton, Jean Barbeau, Brian Shearer, John Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Background. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, or NIDCR; the American Dental Association, or ADA; and the Organization for Safety & Asepsis Procedures, or OSAP, sponsored a workshop on the topic of dental unit waterlines, or DUWLs, on Sept. 29, 2000, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. These organizations invited a group of experts from the ADA, NIDCR, OSAP, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Defense, academia and private industry to participate. Types of Studies Reviewed. The sponsors asked the participants to critically review the scientific literature on the subject in an attempt to determine the evidence basis for management of DUWL contamination and potential health risks, if any, in dental procedures. The ultimate goal of the workshop was to determine if a research agenda in the area of DUWLs should be pursued and what questions such an agenda should involve. Results. The workshop yielded four questions that need to be addressed in future research: What is the safest and most effective agent(s)/device(s) for achieving microbial levels of no more than 200 colony-forming units per milliliter, or CFU/mL, in the effluent dental water? How should these products be evaluated and by whom? What are the adverse health effects, if any, of chronic exposure to dental bioaerosol or to the agents introduced into the dental unit to treat the waterlines for both dental staff members and patients? How could these health issues be evaluated? Clinical Implications. Developing evidence-based parameters for the management of biofilm contamination that are efficacious and cost-effective will allow clinicians to meet in proposed ADA standard of no more than 200 CFU/mL of effluent water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1199-1206
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Dental Association
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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