Is Dental Equipment Really Clean? It May Contain Bacteria

First Posted: Feb 22, 2016 07:40 AM EST

New findings published in the journal Water Research show that despite disinfectants used by dentists to clean up dental materials, French researchers found that many pieces of equipment still contained bacteria in water lines.

"During dental procedures, patients and dentists can be exposed to microorganisms present in the water circulating inside dental units," Dr. Damien Costa, a researcher at the University of Poitiers, said in a news release. "Infections may occur if this potentially microbiologically contaminated water is inhaled or splashed. We wanted to determine the best way to keep dental lines clean and avoid infection."

During the study, researchers specifically tested three disinfectants that European dentists use, including Calbenium, Oxygenal 6, and Sterispray, to see how they fared in getting rid of biofilms that form in conditions similar to dental water lines. Biofilms work as protective layers that bacteria grow over themselves and are difficult to remove.

While they reported that all chemicals killed fungus, none of the disinfectants were tough enough to completely clear the entire biofilms.

At the end of the study, researchers suggest that disinfectants be used as a preventive agent instead of just for cleaning, as well as using higher quality water not contained by microbes and avoiding stagnating water that they grow in. 

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