Dentist: Dental Unit Waterline Contamination: Causes, Concerns, and Control, Updated 1st Ed.

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About Course #L0716

Original Release Date: November 2, 2012

Review Date: October 22, 2015

Expiration Date: April 21, 2021

This course offers a comprehensive overview of the problem of dental unit waterline (DUWL) contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates drinking water in the public water supply to ensure that the number of water organisms is kept at an acceptable level. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the water emitted from dental handpieces and air/water syringes be the same quality as drinking water.

This basic-level course discusses the complexity of DUWL contamination and the importance of monitoring contamination levels. The methods used to control microbial growth and the limitations associated with current approaches are also explained. Participants learn how to judiciously choose a DUWL disinfectant best suited to their practice needs.

AGD Subject Code: 148

Course Objectives

  • Identify the causes of dental unit waterline contamination.
  • Describe national standards and guidelines for dental unit waterline quality.
  • Describe the types of microorganisms recovered from dental unit waterlines.
  • Explain the consequences of dental unit waterline contamination.
  • Identify the current approaches to improving dental unit waterline quality and their limitations.
  • Explain the rationale and methods available for monitoring dental unit waterline quality.

Western Schools designates this activity for 1 continuing education credit.

About the Author(s)

Nuala B. Porteous, BDS, MPH, received her bachelor (the Irish equivalent of the American doctorate) of dental surgery degree (BDS) from University College Cork, Ireland, in 1976. She earned her master's in public health degree (MPH) from The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSC), School of Public Health, at Houston in 1992. She is a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health. She is currently an associate professor/research in the Department of Comprehensive Dentistry, UTHSC San Antonio (UTHSCSA) Dental School. She has held previous faculty appointments at UTHSCSA in the Department of Community Dentistry as a clinical instructor (1995-1998), assistant professor (1998-2005), associate professor (2005-2007), and infectious diseases fellow in the Department of General Dentistry (2000-2002). Dr. Porteous is a member of the American National Standards Institute/American Dental Association Standards Committee for Dental Products.

Course Disclosures

  • Courses must be completed on or before the expiration date noted in the course description above.
  • You must score 75% or higher on the final exam and complete the course evaluation to pass this course and receive a certificate of completion.
  • Through our review processes, Western Schools ensures that the course content is presented in a balanced, unbiased manner and is free from commercial influence.
  • There are no prerequisites for this course.
  • Peer reviewer Shannon E. Mills has disclosed that he is a co-patent holder for Air Controlled Sterile Irrigation System, marketed under license from the U.S. Air Force by Aseptico, Inc., Woodinville, WA. Western Schools ensures that this content is free from bias and commercial influence through its peer-review process.
  • All other persons involved in the planning and development of this course have disclosed no relevant financial relationships or other conflicts of interest related to the course content.

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