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Oral Health Topics

Dental Unit Waterlines

Key Points

  • The CDC recommends that dental unit water used in nonsurgical procedures measure less than or equal to 500 colony forming units of heterotrophic bacteria per milliliter (≤500 CFU/mL) of water, the standard set for drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 
  • Use sterile saline or sterile water as a coolant/irrigant when performing surgical procedures.
  • Follow dental unit manufacturer’s instructions for maintaining and monitoring the quality of dental unit water.
  • Introduction
  • Cleaning Dental Unit Waterlines
  • Water Quality Monitoring
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources
Last Updated: March 20, 2019

Prepared by:

Department of Scientific Information, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, ADA Science & Research Institute, LLC.


Content on the Oral Health Topics section of is for informational purposes only.  Content is neither intended to nor does it establish a standard of care or the official policy or position of the ADA; and is not a substitute for professional judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  ADA is not responsible for information on external websites linked to this website.