It is standard operating procedure for a Mt. Pleasant, SC dentist like Dr. Jeff Gardner to clean and sterilize dental equipment after each use. A dentist’s tools come in contact with muscle and tissue in the oral cavity for every procedure. Unsterilized dental tools can lead to a variety of complications, as in the case of an 82-year-old woman who died from an illness in 2011 that claimed a number of lives.
Dr. Maria Luisa Ricci of the Italian National Health Service in Rome led a group of researchers on this specific case. The woman died of Legionnaires’ disease, a variant of pneumonia caused by the Legionella bacteria strain. The name originated from the 1976 outbreak of the strain at the American Legion Convention in Philadelphia. The outbreak claimed 34 lives while the bacteria strain was discovered only six months later.
Dr. Ricci’s team found that the water line of the dentist the elderly woman visited was the cause of her death. Water samples from the dental office contained traces of the Legionella strain. The dentist’s tools may have been tainted by strain-infected water. Dr. Ricci’s team knew of no other similar case of Legionnaire’s disease being acquired in this manner before the study.
To mitigate infection, the American Dental Association set guidelines for water lines going to dental offices. The ADA recommends the water line in the dental office should contain no more than 500 colony-forming units per milliliter of water. This is also the standard amount suggested by various agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency. A separate study showed that a water line can house as much as 200,000 colony-forming units in just five days.
Dr, Jeff Gardner’s dental office follows the standards to the letter. Dr. Ricci recommends taking measures to prevent this from happening again. Water should continuously flow to prevent stagnation, which can cause bacteria buildup. An annual check of the water line is also recommended, as well as an upgrade in filtration and other water treatment systems. Since patients gargle with water and dentists wash their tools with it, it becomes the latter’s responsibility to ensure its cleanliness.
Sterile equipment used by dentists in Mt. Pleasant, SC like Dr. Jeff Gardner make fora safe and efficient treatment of dental problems. Dr. Gardner ensures that bacteria will not compromise any dental procedure, whether a regular checkup or a root canal. They aim to improve the oral health of their patients while keeping them healthy in all aspects at the same time.