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The Latest on Assembly Bill 1277: Calling All California Dental Pros to Higher Standards


[Edited February 25, 2019]

The information regarding this legislation has changed. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on California water legislation, click here.

[Edited August 14, 2018]

Well, if you haven't heard, it is official. The Dental Board of California (DBC) passed the language of Assembly Bill 1277 back in May 2018 and it is calling all dental professionals to higher standards in dental unit waterline maintenance.

Assembly Bill 1277 calls on the Dental Board of California to amend the minimum standards for safety of dental water used in procedures that expose dental pulp. Spurred in large part due to the Anaheim outbreak of mycobacterial infection that hospitalized 72 children - many with severe complications - and was traced back to a children's dental clinic with un-tested dental unit waterlines.

With the acceptance of the proposed bill language, the Dental Board of California will move forward in the finalization of legislative and regulatory processes. The board is in the midst of a 45 day listening period to gather feedback on the bill - we expect to hear final language and next steps in late August [As of August 15th, it appears the DBC will not address this at their meeting at the end of August - stay tuned for updates here at ProEdgeDental.com]. Per the mandate of the bill, the new standards could be introduced anytime within the next year.

If you are a California dental professional, you’ll want to be ready to ensure your practice is in compliance and your patients are getting the best care.

Below you’ll find the most up-to-date information about the new dental waterline standards. Each of the highlights below contains the exact language of the proposed bill so that you can understand exactly what will be expected of your dental practice.

Straight from the Bill: Disinfecting Agent Must Be Present

“Water or other methods used for irrigation shall be sterile or contain recognized disinfecting or antibacterial properties when performing procedures that expose dental pulp.”
(From Section 1005 of Division 10 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations)

Terms You Need to Know/Clarifications

“The use of a physical or chemical procedure to destroy all microorganisms including large numbers of resistant bacterial spores.” (CDC)

Procedures Exposing Dental Pulp
According to CDA member Ms. Mary McCune, “only fluids used during irrigation of the exposed pulp and not the entire procedure itself shall be sterile, or contain disinfecting or antibacterial agent.”

How We Can Help

We can make this really easy for you. Our BluTab Waterline Maintenance Tablets are an EPA approved and award-winning disinfecting/antibacterial solution for these procedures. It is one of the most effective and economical methods on the market. Click Here to Learn More, or Order a Free Sample.

Straight from the Bill: Flushing is Necessary

“Dental unit water lines shall be anti-retractive. At the beginning of each workday, dental unit lines and devices shall be purged with air or flushed with water for at least two minutes prior to attaching handpieces, scalers, air water syringe tips, other devices. The dental unit lines and devices shall be flushed between each patient for a minimum of twenty seconds.”
(From Section 1005 of Division 10 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations)

Terms You Need To Know/Clarifications

“Prevents oral fluids from being drawn into dental waterlines.” (OSAP)

Purging and Flushing Waterlines
Rids potentially contaminated air and water from your dental waterlines.

How ProEdge Can Help

In addition to purging and flushing, we must stress that regularly shocking of your waterlines is a vitally important component of quality dental waterline maintenance, regardless of the product you use. We've tested well over 100,000 waterlines and this continues to be true. Click here to learn how to shock your dental waterlines using bleach.

Straight From the Bill: Regular Dental Water Testing

“Dental unit waterlines shall be monitored following the instructions for use from the manufacturer of the dental unit or the dental unit waterline treatment product.”
(From Section 1005 of Division 10 of Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations)

Terms You Need to Know/Clarifications

Dental Waterline Testing
Dental waterline monitoring is the same thing as dental waterline testing. And testing is the only way to effectively monitor your dental unit waterline quality. Check with your treatment manufacturer for instructions on how often you should test, although, ProEdge recommends a minimum of quarterly testing. Even treated dental unit waterlines fail 30% of the time and 61% of practices have at least one failed line when they test. So, it's not a luxury; it's an important part of every waterline maintenance protocol. 

To learn more about waterline testing, check out the ProEdge Dental Waterline Testing Comprehensive Guide.

Dental Unit Waterline Treatment Products
The most popular dental unit waterline treatment products utilize low-level antimicrobials which effectively balance two objectives:

  1. Keep bacteria at bay to maintain clean lines.
  2. Utilize a safe chemical at a safe level to go into the patients mouth.

Because of this, waterline treatment products are much better at maintaining already clean lines rather than disinfecting (or reducing the bacteria counts) them. Add in the sometimes confusing directions, poor labeling, improper use, or a lack of shocking beforehand, and treatment products are definitely capable of failing. Our lab compiled data from over 20,000 consecutive dental waterline tests and discovered the average pass/fail of different types of products - you can view that information here.

With any product, make sure you carefully review and follow all of your treatment product's instructions.

How ProEdge Can Help

ProEdge is the most experienced dental water lab in the world. We use a proven testing method that neutralizes your sample to accurately determine the safety of your water compared to the CDC’s less than 500 CFU/mL guideline. And our team is always available to help you achieve safe water - no matter what protocol or service you use. If you have any troubles or want to learn more about our testing methods, you can contact our team and we'll be happy to help.

Next Steps:

How to Shock Your Dental Waterlines
Learn more about why shocking is important no matter what protocol you’re implementing and how you can get started today.

Dental Waterline Testing: A Comprehensive Guide
Learn more about the importance of dental waterline testing in offering the highest quality of patient care and protection.

Dental Water Treatment Product Selection Guide
See the full research results from over 22,000 dental waterline tests on the effectiveness of the treatment products on the market.

Get a Free Sample of BluTab
Get a free month's supply of the most effective and economical dental waterline treatment available.


Tags: California AB1277, California SB 1491