Dental unit waterlines are prone to contamination because they have a low flow rate and undergo long periods of stagnation and the tubing (compared to regular plumbing) has a high surface to volume ratio, among other factors.
Studies have shown that waterlines can become colonized with microorganisms including bacteria, fungi and protozoa. The polysaccharide slime layer these microorganisms create in then serves as a reservoir that can amplify the number of free-floating microorganisms (planktonic) in dental unit waterlines.
Daily, weekly and monthly waterline treatment protocols have been recommended by industry, paying special attention to the instructions of water treatment products you use. Bacteria grows quickly and exponentially: they can double their population every 20 minutes in a warm environment.
For instance, let’s say there’s one bacterium in the waterline at 8.00 am, by noon this number is 4,096, and by 5.00 p.m. there are 134,217,728 bacteria present. Just think of what the bacterial count would be overnight when the water is absolutely stagnant, or even over the weekend.
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