Legionella bacteria can be found in a variety of environments: hotels, care homes, and hospitals. Dental clinics are certainly no exception.
Here are a few reasons why Legionella testing for dental practices is recommended.
What causes Legionnaires’ disease?
Legionnaires’ disease is caused by inhaling droplets of water contaminated with the Legionella bacteria. This type of bacteria can be found in streams, lakes and other similar freshwater environments. As the water passes through pipes and plumbing systems, the bacteria are also carried along. They also become airborne when people turn on their taps. Dormant water can also cause the bacteria to develop and multiply exponentially.
Who can contract the disease?
In some cases, people who get exposed to the bacteria may not get sick. However, certain types of individuals are more susceptible to developing Legionnaires’ disease. These include:
- The elderly
- People who smoke or used to smoke
- Individuals suffering from chronic lung ailments, cancer, liver failure or kidney failure
- People with weak immune systems
Legionella in the dental industry
Dental clinics are medical institutions. Licensed dentists try to keep all their tools and equipment clean and sterile before being used on the next patient. However, clinics are not exempt from becoming breeding grounds for bacteria.
In fact, in September 2017 in the US, a hospital in Montana tested positive for the bacteria. During a water crisis in Flint, MI., a rise in fetal deaths was observed. Experts presumed that water contaminated with the bacteria might be the culprit that caused this spike.
How it can develop in clinics
In a dental clinic, bacteria can develop along the plastic tubing within the waterlines. Unlike hospitals, clinics are rarely open all day every day. Clinics close during the evenings, weekends and long holidays. During this time, the water can settle and remain stagnant, allowing the bacterial colonies to multiply in the thousands.
This water goes into the mouths of dental patients, some of which have open sores or wounds due to dental procedures or surgery. Dentists and their staff can also contract the bacteria as they use the water while working.
It is recommended that Dentists should have both their domestic water and their dental water lines tested for Legionella on a regular basis. AquaCert offers affordable testing kits that are easy to use. Simply fill the bottle(s) with water from each of the systems (taps or dental water lines) and call AquaCert to have the sample collected. After the sample has been tested and analysed, we will send you the results and certificate via mail.