Practice Tips #125: Water Safety


As dental offices have been opening and closing due to local safety regulations and environmental safety concerns, having clean water and clear water lines have been issues some dentists have been facing. After a period of non-use, dental equipment may require maintenance and/or repair. Review the manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU) for office closure, period of non-use, and reopening for all equipment and devices. With the help from ProEdge, we have some ways for you to maintain water safety in your practice.

In the largest dental water treatment efficacy study ever done, 31% of treated water lines in practices failed to meet the CDC standard for safe dental unit water (<500 CFU/mL).

Here is the protocol backed by science & proven in practice in order to achieve the highest efficacy rate. Follow these three steps to safe water (you can download the full protocol here):

  1. Shock first before implementing a treatment and then shock at least quarterly.
  2. Treat water lines daily with a tablet or straw. BluTab can be used with tap or distilled water. These products are safe for patient contact and dental equipment, are non-toxic, non-allergenic, and non-corrosive.
  3. Test quarterly, at a minimum, as the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) recommends. 

To test whether or not your water is safe, QuickPass In-Office Dental Water Tests provide a means for simple, microbiological analysis of procedural water for dental treatment. Each QuickPass provides an estimated heterotrophic plate count to measure compliance with the CDC standard for safe water of <500 CFU/mL.

When following the directions for water testing with the QuickPass, you make sure to do the four main steps: 

  1. Take a sample of water directly from the dental unit, device or line into the vial.
  2. Reinsert the paddle firmly into the vial and lay the grid membrane filter side down for at least 1 minute, to allow the water to soak into the media pad.
  3. Remove the paddle, pour out the water and reinsert the paddle.
  4. Lay grid membrane filter side down at room temperature for 48 to 72 hours before reading the results. 

Once incubation is complete, remove the paddle from the vial casing and examine the gridded filter. Bacteria colonies will present as red, orange, or opaque spots or film. Compare your paddle with the chart above to find your range. Bacterial counts are estimated values based on R2A correlation. If exact bacterial counts are desired or results vary widely, it is recommended testing with ProEdge’s Mail-In Water Test Kits. Depending on your results, remedial action may be necessary to clean your water lines. After reading your QuickPass results, use this table to determine the necessary action to achieve or maintain safe water lines. If your results indicate microbial counts in the caution range, shock within one week and continue quarterly testing. If your results are above a count of>501CFU/mL, shock your water lines immediately and then retest.

Review your water line treatment product’s instructions for use to determine shock protocol. If unclear, contact ProEdge for guidance or for more information about shocking, visit here.

After everything is done, make sure to document every time you test your water lines to maintain your records for at least five years. You can download and print the complimentary QuickPass Testing Log here.

Routine clinical monitoring of your water line safety is the only way to ensure that treatment procedures are performed correctly and that your water exceeds the standard for safety. It is recommended to follow the guidelines set by OSAP.  

  1.  Test your water lines monthly
  2.  Once passing results are consistent, test quarterly.
  3.  Retest your water lines after corrective action to ensure effectiveness.

We hope this information will help you with the safety of your water in your dental practice. As always, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 1-800-331-7993 if you have any other questions or concerns.