Are dentists enough aware of infectious risk associated with dental unit waterlines?

A Robert, A Bousseau, D Costa, V Barbot, C Imbert


Environmental conditions in DU encourage biofilm development. This biofilm may represent a risk for patients and dental staff exposed to water and aerosols generated during dental cares, particularly for immunocompromised persons.
A survey was conducted on the 175 dental surgeons of the department of Vienne (France) to investigate the motivations of dental practitioners to renew their DU, their awareness levels with respect to infectious risks related to water circulating within DU, and methods used for the maintenance of DU waterlines.
These dentists were only partially aware of the need for maintaining DU waterlines. For this maintaining, chemical treatments and purges of pipes were carried out by 88% and 91.5% of dentists respectively ; chemical treatments were usually on a continous mode and dentists seemed to have complete confidence in their DU supplier regarding the choice and the use of chemical treatments. Flushes were performed only once per day in most cases (63%). This survey also highlighted that dentists were not enough aware of water related infectous risk, even though 68% estimated that the development of a biofilm within DU waterlines was an actual risk. Finally, very positively, dentists strongly indicated their wish to be more informed regarding all these risks.
Although these results are based on a relatively small sample, corresponding to dentists of a French department, they clearly suggest that awareness of dental surgeons is still insufficient and must be performed to permit an effective prevention of infectious risk related to DU waterlines.


dental unit; water; dental surgeons; infectious risk; biofilm; awareness

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