I wanted to send out a quick note regarding proper water treatment protocols within the dental operatory. I recently attended a 2-day training on the proper ways to treat dental water and last week during the few days that I was making calls before the holiday, I found that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the topic. Hopefully, I can clear it up for you, and please feel free to reach out for more info, etc…
First, it doesn’t matter that you use distilled water, reverse osmosis, O-so-Pure, etc… The water lines with a dental unit are so small and the rate of the water moving is so slow (1 liter per day) that within 6 hours all of the above will start growing bacteria/bio-film. We need more than just start with clean water.
For the past 15 years or so, you cannot buy a dental chair that does not come with a water bottle system attached. That is the easiest way to interrupt the flow of water to the dental unit and treat it, so that, you, your team, and patients do not get exposed. The proper way to treat the water bottle solution is to shock the water lines once a month with a dental waterline shock (Citrisil, VistaTab, Sterilex, etc…) DO NOT USE bleach; unless you hate your equipment. Once you have shocked the waterlines, you need to maintain them for the next 30 days using either tablets or liquid drops (Z3 tabs, BluTab, Vista Clean, etc…) EVERY TIME you fill the water bottle. Should human error occur and a bottle is used without the tablets or liquid, you need to start over and shock the lines again…
Using just the maintenance tablets or drops without shocking the lines will not do anything, and just shocking the lines will work for 1 day only. We need to do both of these in conjunction to properly treat our waterlines. Beyond that, if you do have very hard municipal water, then it is suggested to use distilled water with the maintenance tabs or drops as well.
You also should test your water regularly. (5092-606 Aquasafe water test kits for 12 units, or 4293-829 Aquasafe water test kits for 4 units) .
The above sounds like a pain in the butt, and I agree. Fortunately, we have another solution that has simplified the entire process. Sterisil Straws have been invented specifically to treat the waterlines in a dental operatory for an entire year. These straws are what the military use in their dental units. Quite simply, you install the straw; which comes with a shock built into the straw and forget about them for a year. Once installed, there is no need to shock the lines once a month, use drops or tablets every time you fill the water bottle, and worry if about human error. I always recommend that you have your service technician do the initial installation, but after that changing the straws out is the same as putting a needle on a syringe…luer lock system.
Sterisil has a patented formula that releases silver is a small, small amount as a disinfectant within the water. Side note, sailors and pirates used to put silver in their drinking water on ships for just that reason…(In case you are every on Jeopardy…LOL!)
I know…how much are these? If you add up the cost of the shock, maintenance tablets or drops, and the time it takes monthly to shock each operatory, you are looking at approximately $200-$300. Sterisil straws are $238 each. Many times they have a 2+1. That nets down to $158.99 each; plus we eliminate the human error.
Having your dental units connected directly to the city water lines doesn’t let you off the hook. You will still need to interrupt the flow of the water (generally within the junction box of the dental chair) and add a Sterisil cartridge to treat the water similar to the Sterisil Straws. Because we do not control the water coming through from the city, the cartridges life span is not easily predictable. It will depend on the quality of the water (Hardness) that is coming in and the flow rate of the water (1 liter per day). With an accurate hardness of the water coming in, you can make an educated guess, as to, the lengthy of time the cartridge will properly function. You test the hardness of the water prior to the projected expiration date and ensure it is still functioning properly. You will continue to monitor the hardness until the hardness levels start to increase, and you will then know it is time to change the cartridge. A water quality tester is available for you.
Cartridges are going to very in size and price. Obviously the larger the cartridge, the longer it will last. Space can also be an issue within a junction box. Its best for you to take a look specifically at your situation with the cartridges. Now no more worries!