Dental Unit Waterlines

  • Martin R. Fulford
  • Nikolai R. Stankiewicz
Part of the BDJ Clinician’s Guides book series (BDJCG)


Water is used widely in dentistry, either as a coolant, irrigant or both, for many of the treatments provided to patients. The source of this water is either from the mains supply or is purified such as that produced by distillation or is produced by deionisation equipment or reverse osmosis equipment. Purified water may either be generated in the practice or may be bought in from commercial suppliers. When buying in water for use on patients, it is important that it is suitable for medical use and is not intended for other uses such as from the motor trade and intended for use in car batteries as it does not come with the assurance that it is fit for human consumption. It is not essential that any water used in dental units is sterile for providing routine dental care but the user should at least ensure that it is of potable quality as defined by local water regulations. Water that is intended for use in dental units must not be stored for long periods of time in large quantities as bacteria can multiply in stagnant water. Even sterile water will rapidly become contaminated once the storage container has been opened and exposed to the environment.

Further Reading

  1. Pankhurst CL, Coulter W, Philpott-Howard JN, Surman-Lee S, Warburton F, Challacombe S. Evaluation of the potential risk of occupational asthma in dentists exposed to contaminated dental unit waterlines. Prim Dent Care. 2005;12(2):53–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Walker JT, Bradshaw DJ, Finney M, Fulford MR, Frandsen E, ØStergaard E, Ten Cate JM, Moorer WR, Schel AJ, Mavridou A, Kamma JJ, Mandilara G, Stösser L, Kneist S, Araujo R, Contreras N, Goroncy-Bermes P, O’Mullane D, Burke F, Forde A, O’Sullivan M, Marsh PD. Microbiological evaluation of dental unit water systems in general dental practice in Europe. Eur J Oral Sci. 2004;112(5):412–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin R. Fulford
    • 1
  • Nikolai R. Stankiewicz
    • 2
  1. 1.WedmoreUK
  2. 2.East LydfordUK

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