Lately, when we think of infection control, we initially think of gloves, masks, face shields, gowns, thermometers, and protective barriers. We consider all the ways we can avoid exposing one another to potential pathogens and ensure a safe experience at the dental office. While these measures are important, how often do we think about the pathogens that may be lurking deep inside our operatory equipment? When considering dental unit waterlines and suction lines, routine maintenance is crucial to ensure the safety and proper performance of the tools that we simply can’t practice without.
Recent research indicates that despite what may be present in patients’ saliva, most aerosolized pathogens that circulate in the air come from our dental unit waterlines. One study revealed that 70% of tested waterlines had high levels of bacterial contamination, and 90% of dental offices evaluated showed moderate bacterial contamination in the air.1 In addition to these startling findings, we must remember that unit suction lines can also pose a safety hazard to patients in the form of backflow. Each time the patient closes his or her lips around the tip of the saliva ejector, contaminated fluids from the suction line flow into the patient’s mouth.2 It’s safe to say that our operatories are only as clean as our lines!
More "Chairside Impact":
- Chairside Impact: FluoroCal by Bisco
- Chairside Impact: Monarch CleanStream by Air Techniques
- Chairside Impact: ErgoFinger
Air Techniques has provided a great option for waterline maintenance: Monarch Lines Cleaner. Their formula is designed to deliver weekly removal of biofilm that accumulates deep inside dental unit waterline tubing without the need for daily water cleaning tablets. I find this cleaner to be extremely easy to implement into my sanitation routine. After air purging my unit lines, I pour a measured amount of the cleaning solution into my water bottle and briefly run it through my air water syringe and high-speed waterlines. I turn off my unit and leave the solution to sit inside the lines for at least six hours, but my preference is to treat my lines over the weekend so the solution has plenty of time to remove bacteria and loosen debris. To flush the cleaner and waste from the lines, I empty the remaining solution from my water bottle, refill with water, and run my lines for at least 30 seconds or until the water is clear.
Monarch CleanStream Evacuation System Cleaner is a fantastic product for your suction line needs. Maintaining clean suction lines ensures the highest performance of your evacuation system, as clogged tubes can ultimately result in costly repairs that can halt your entire business. Monarch’s fresh-scented cleaning solution is formulated to remove buildup and odors that can quickly grow inside the line tubing. In addition to the power of this effective cleaner, this system includes a unique solution dispenser with vortex technology. Once I fill the dispenser with diluted cleaning solution and attach the suction lines, this advanced technology allows the solution to curl around the inside of the tubes with a turbulent flow, reaching every surface and disrupting debris accumulation. Gone are the days of hearing the “glug-glug” sound of repeatedly dipping our suction lines in a bucket of cleaner, obtaining limited cleaning results. With daily use, I can rest assured that my office’s evacuation system is clear, clean, and running optimally.
Line maintenance may seem like a chore, but it truly is a must in infection control. Thankfully, Air Techniques makes the process simple and easy—even enjoyable!
Editor's note: This article appeared in the March 2022 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.
- Kadaifciler D, Cotuk A. Microbial contamination of dental unit waterlines and effect on quality of indoor air. Environ Monit Assess. 2014;186(6):3431-3444. doi:10.1007/s10661-014-3628-6
- Saliva ejector & backflow. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. March 3, 2016. https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/infectioncontrol/faqs/saliva.html