Dental Water Lines
Loaded With
Dangerous Bacteria

Except Drs. Kennedy and Limeback, of course. This was the story that was on 20/20 last night about the water lines dentists use in our mouths. They are dirtier than toilet water the report said. Below that is a comment a dentist made on one of those lists for dentists. I think dentists should be more concerned about the water they put in our mouths at their office than the tap water we drink at home - if they really care about their patients dental health as they claim. _____
Dirty Dental Water
20/20 Finds High Bacteria Levels
Because of its design, dental equipment holds stagnant water in which potentially dangerous bacteria develops quickly. (
For many of us, going to the dentist is a traumatic experience.
The poking and drilling that goes on for those few hours does not make any future visits any more inviting. Now imagine that the water used during all of those dental procedures was so laden with bacteria, some experts compare it to pond scum.
20/20,s Arnold Diaz wanted to find out how widespread the problem is. The results of a 20/20 investigation revealed startling levels of bacteria. Almost 90 percent of the water samples tested did not meet federal drinking water standards, and two-thirds of them contained oral bacteria, from the saliva of previous patients.
The test also compared the water from a number of dentists, offices with water from public toilets. In nearly every case, it found that the water from the toilets was cleaner than the water going into the patients, mouths.
Equipment Design Problems
Why is dental water often full of bacteria? The problem stems from the design of the water lines that feed the dental tools. Underneath the chair and tied to all the equipment visible in the office are tubes that hold the water used in procedures.
When the instruments are not in use, the water sits inside the tubing and stagnates. The small number of environmental bacteria naturally found in the water quickly multiply and clings to the walls of the tubing. When the equipment is used again, the bacteria can be flushed into the mouths, of patients.
Potential Hazards
Professor Robert Staat, a microbiologist with the University of Louisville Dental School, tested the water from more than 60 dental offices across the nation. He says the organisms found in the water are environmental bacteria and generally not harmful to most people. But, Staat says, "You shouldn,t be exposed to these levels of bacteria when you,re in a health-care facility.
Dr. George Merijohn, a periodontist who has studied and written about the problem, explains the bacteria can potentially cause disease, especially to people who have weakened immune systems. Any procedures like gum surgery, root canals, and tooth extractions are riskier because they expose the gum line.
"It,s an open wound, and that,s bone, and that,s why in medical surgery they never think of using anything but sterile saline or sterile water, Merijohn says.
Safe Alternatives
Even though most patients are unaware of the situation at their dentist,s office, the American Dental Association has known of the problem for a number of years. It set a goal to clean up dental water by the year 2000 and instructed manufacturers to come up with possible solutions.
For example, Merijohn uses sterile tubing and disposable bags of sterile saline for his dental tools. Improvements have been made in ultrasonic scalers, used for teeth cleanings, so they can deliver sterile water. Also on the market are water-line filters, which trap bacteria and chemical treatments to flush out the lines.
Still, Merijohn believes most dentists are still using contaminated water in their offices.
Ask Your Doctor
How serious is the risk? ADA spokesman John Molinari says there is no published evidence of a serious health risk. But are people getting sick from the bacteria found in dental water? "For healthy people, I do not have any concern, he says.
Molinari says we can expect major strides in the process of updating dental equipment over the next couple of years. In the meantime, the next time you sit in the dentist,s chair, you may want to ask what they,re doing to clean their water lines. _____
American Dental Association Dr. George Merijohn Coalition for Safe Dental Water
M. H. GROOMS < 2-19-00
Hello Jeff !!!
Thought you may want to know about a shocking story I saw on the ABC TV program "20/20" on l8 Feb. 2000.
The story was about the test done on the water a dentist will spray in the patient's mouth while working on the teeth.
Water from 60 dentists was tested. Also, as a point of reference to contrast/ compare, water was taken from the dentist's commode to test for levels of bacteria.
The shocking part was the water in the commode was ALMOST ALWAYS "cleaner" in terms of the levels of bacteria than the water being sprayed in a patient's mouth! "The Dentist's Dirty Secret."
Also, look for the list of Web sites that relate to this story, such as:
American Dental Association's reaction to the story at and
In addition to the above info, the "20/20" story had other elements - such as the dentist who got sick from inhaling the mist given off by the water being sprayed into a patient's mouth.
Another related story was about a lady who got a brain infection from this "dirty water."
The problem is the type of equipment the dentist is using .
There is GOOD NEWS!!!
The above Web sites offer important and useful info to help people protect themselves from a dentist's possible "dirty, maybe deadly water."
ALL the BEST!!!


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