Biofilms, infectious agents, and dental unit waterlines: a review

Can J Microbiol. 1998 Nov;44(11):1019-28. doi: 10.1139/cjm-44-11-1019.


Aquatic biofilms, which are widespread not only in nature but also in medical and dental devices, can be the source of serious nosocomial infections. In these hardy microbial communities, pathogens like nontuberculous mycobacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Legionella pneumophila, and other bacteria not only survive but proliferate and lie in wait for susceptible hosts. Not only are these organisms intrinsically resistant to high temperatures and biocides, but the biofilms they inhabit enhance their resistance. This should be of concern to infection control practitioners. The bacterial colonization of dental unit waterlines can be used as a model to investigate the problem of waterborne biofilms in health care settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control*
  • Biofilms*
  • Cross Infection / microbiology
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Dental Equipment / microbiology*
  • Equipment Contamination / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Intubation
  • Water Microbiology*