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What to do with Dental Unit Waterlines if you are/were closed

Fiona Collins BDS, MBA, MA, FPFA, Shannon Mills DDS

This podcast will discuss the contamination and routine management of dental unit waterlines. This will be followed by a discussion on what to do when offices reopen after being restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learning objectives

After completing this podcast, listeners should be able to:

  1. Review the contamination of dental unit waterline water and its historical perspective.
  2. Describe methods by which the dental unit waterlines in closed and open systems may be monitored and maintained, including when reopening after restricted practice associated with COVID-19.


  • CDC. Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Dental Settings. Available at:
  • CDC. Guidelines for infection control in dental health-care settings—2003. MMWR 2003;52(RR- 17):1-66.
  • CDC. Notes from the Field: Mycobacterium abscessus Infections Among Patients of a Pediatric Dentistry Practice — Georgia, 2015. MMWR 2016;65(13):355-356.
  • CDC. Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings. Basic Expectations for Safe Care. Available at:
  • Mills S. The dental unit waterline controversy: defusing the myths, defining the solutions. J Am Dent Assoc. 2000;131:1427-1441.
  • O’Donnell MJ et al. Management of dental unit waterline biofilms in the 21st century. Future Microbiol. (2011) 6(10), 1209-1226.
  • OSAP. Dental Unit Waterline White Paper. Available at:
  • OSHA Review. The DUWL Outbreak in Orange County. Available at:
  • Porteous N, Sun Y, Schoolfield J. Evaluation of 3 dental unit waterline contamination testing methods. Gen Dent. 2015 Jan-Feb;63(1):41-7.
  • Prospero E, Savini S, Annino I: Microbial aerosol contamination of dental healthcare workers’ faces and other surfaces in dental practice.
  • Ricci, ML, Fontana, S, Pinci, F, et al. Pneumonia associated with a dental unit waterline. The Lancet. 2012;379(9816):684.
  • CategoriesInfection Control, Public Health
  • LanguageEnglish
“What to do with Dental Unit Waterlines if you are/were closed” is co-sponsored by Tribune Group GmbH. Tribune Group GmbH is a recognized ADA CERP and AGD PACE provider. At the end of the podcast, after passing the C.E. Quiz, you will be able to download your ADA CERP and AGD PACE C.E. Certificates.