New Study Reaffirms Importance of Waterline Infection Control


CHICAGO, June 10, 2024 — Waterline infection control is an important component of dental care to patients, however new research conducted by the American Dental Association Science & Research Institute (now the ADA Forsyth Institute) indicates dental team members would benefit from additional education around waterline disinfection procedures, according to a study released in the June issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The study – which was funded by HuFriedyGroup, a manufacturer of instrumentation, infection prevention, and instrument reprocessing workflows including dental unit waterlines – assessed dental offices’ current infection control protocols by surveying those who directly manage or supervise maintenance for dental unit waterlines (tubing that provides water for common oral procedures such as teeth cleaning).

According to survey results, 85% of respondents recognized the importance of preventing infection via waterline systems, which are most often maintained by dental hygienists and dental assistants. Approximately 700 dental professionals responded to the survey, which was distributed online to dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants.

“The nature of dental unit waterline systems makes them susceptible to bacterial growth, which is why having a team that appreciates the importance of testing and maintaining these lines is of utmost importance,” said Dr. David Carsten, D.D.S. Dr. Carsten is chair of the Washington State Dental Commission, chair of the Infection Control in the Dental Commission for the Washington State Department of Public Health, assistant professor at the Oregon Health and Science University’s School of Dentistry and an author on the study.

The report also identified some knowledge gaps and highlighted opportunities for ongoing education within dental facilities about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) dental unit waterline guidelines. Approximately one-third of dental professionals surveyed were uncertain if the dental facility complied with the CDC guidelines to ensure the safety and efficacy of dental treatments, and one-quarter of respondents were not confident in their own ability to maintain and test these waterlines.

Additionally, nearly half of respondents said their practice did not have a designated infection control coordinator as recommended by the CDC. Factors including time constraints, staffing shortages and financial barriers were cited as challenges for dental offices in instituting designated infection control practices.

“A key principle in medicine is to correctly diagnose the problem if you hope to cure it. Identifying current practices and potential barriers to implementation is an important step in improving compliance,” said Dr. Carsten. “Data like this is essential in designing continuing education programs and updating existing dental waterline infection control recommendations. Practitioners need a clear message of best practices, what to do and why.”

To view the study, visit Educational and training resources, including a quick reference guide to current dental unit waterline infection control guidance, can be found at

About HuFriedyGroup
HuFriedyGroup, a global leader in instrumentation, infection prevention, and instrument reprocessing workflows, helps dental professionals be the best in practice with the highest quality products, services, and educational experiences in the industry. With HuFriedyGroup, clinicians can reduce risk, improve efficiencies, drive compliance, enhance patient and staff safety, and achieve superior clinical performance to continue to be the best in practice. Headquartered in Chicago, HuFriedyGroup products are distributed in more than 100 countries, and the company maintains offices in Germany, Italy, China, and Japan.

About the American Dental Association
The not-for-profit ADA is the nation's largest dental association, representing 159,000 dentist members. The premier source of oral health information, the ADA has advocated for the public's health and promoted the art and science of dentistry since 1859. The ADA's state-of-the-art research facilities develop and test dental products and materials that have advanced the practice of dentistry and made the patient experience more positive. The ADA Seal of Acceptance long has been a valuable and respected guide to consumer dental care products. The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA), published monthly, is the ADA's flagship publication and the best-read scientific journal in dentistry. For more information about the ADA, visit For more information on oral health, including prevention, care and treatment of dental disease, visit the ADA's consumer website