How to Prevent Contamination of the Dental Practice Water

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Speaker(s): Dr Caroline Pankhurst
CPD Time: 1.5 hours
Duration: 1 hour
Online content includes 120 days access from the date of purchase.
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Legionellaceae are distributed worldwide in all types of aquatic habitats, generally occurring in low numbers. Legionellae may enter the practice’s water supply from the mains.  Under suitable growth and temperature conditions legionella and other water pathogens can  multiply and grow. In the Dental unit waterlines biofilms form readily and act as a reservoir contaminating the water used for irrigation of the mouth unless the waterlines are managed appropriately. Biofilms are complex microbial communities attached to a solid surface and imbedded in an organic matrix, which makes them very resistant to removal and penetration by biocides. The biofilms with which dentist are most familiar is dental plaque and it can be appreciated that in that same way that the accumulation of plaques can be  difficult for patients to control and remove, the control of dental unit waterline biofilms is also challenging to the dental profession

This on-line lecture is designed to help all members of the dental team and in particular the registered provider and infection control lead to understand how legionella and other water borne pathogens can contaminate the practices water supply and how they can be eliminated from the water systems in the practice.  The lecture will explain how to implement the new Approved Code of Practice” Legionnaire’s disease: Control of legionella in water systems” and the accompanying technical guidance in the dental practice.

Learning outcomes:

At the end of the lecture the participants should have an understanding of

  • The different sources of microbial contamination in dental unit waterlines (DUWLs)
  • The importance of legionellae and other waterborne pathogens in risk assessments for DUWLs and the practice’s hot and cold water systems
  • Be aware of the current national legislation and regulations for DUWLs and water system safety in dental practice
  • How to carry out daily management of DUWLs in dental practice

This talk satisfies the GDC’s learning outcomes:

  • C – Maintenance and development of knowledge and skill within your field of practice
  • D – Maintenance of skills, behaviours and attitudes which maintain patient confidence in you and the dental profession and put patients’ interests first


Dr Caroline Pankhurst BSc PhD BDS MSC MRCPath (Specialist in Oral Microbiology)

Dr Caroline Pankhurst is a dentist and a Specialist in Oral Microbiology and has published extensively in the fields of oral microbiology, dental unit waterlines and oral medicine including two books on infection control entitled “Control of Infection Guidelines for General Dental Practice” now in its fourth edition and co-authored “Basic Guide to Prevention and Infection Control in Dentistry”. She is actively involved in postgraduate dental education and training. Caroline has been a member of the Editorial Boards of “Primary Dental Care” and BMC Oral Health; is a member of the SAC in Medical Microbiology (Royal College of Pathologists), the BDA Central Committee for Dental Academic Staff and a Director of the charity the Fungal Infection Trust.  She was President of BDA Metropolitan Branch in 2006.

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