Dental Health Info Article

Dental Unit Waterlines

Dental unit waterlines are an important part of a dentist’s toolkit and are used during al...

Dental unit waterlines are a small but essential element of dentistry. You'll use it throughout your trip to the dentist. With research that shows biofilms can develop on dental unit waterlines, there is still no evidence that this presents a health risk to the patient. Since it does happen, dentists keep a keen eye on the health of their practice and quality of water.

Technology is greatly assisting in this process, with the advent of new ways to offer clean water -- so biofilms are less of a problem.

Dental unit waterlines are thin tubes that are used to deliver water during dental treatment. We have all gotten enough dentistry done in the past to be familiar with these elements of dental technology. Dental unit waterlines are used in a variety of ways in dental treatment. The small-bore plastic tubing "delivers coolant water for high-speed dental hand-pieces, air-water syringes and ultrasonic scalers."

Current Protocols

Like any piece of dental equipment, dental unit waterlines must be kept clean in order to maintain the health of the patient. Because of the nature of dental unit waterlines, there is a possibility of "water coming into buildings from city water supplies or wells that is not sterile and contains a number of waterborne bacteria."


This is a type of bacteria or fungi that can be found anywhere. Areas where there is moisture and a suitable host (like in dental unit waterlines) are more susceptible to microbes/germs called biofilm that adhere to surfaces to form a protective slime layer. This can happen occasionally because water used by dental offices comes from city sources.


Keeping It Clean

In order to avoid the collection of biofilms, the American Dental Association has put forth guidelines to keep patients healthy. First of all, water must meet a certain standard with respect to concentrations of contaminants and chemicals. Today, more and more dentists are using improvised dental unit waterlines.

Bacterial problems are less of a problem as technology is advancing. Improved quality includes using "independent water reservoirs, chemical treatment regimens, daily draining and air-purging regiments and point-of-use filters."