The Cross-Contamination Line – Not a Problem Until You’ve Crossed It!

You probably won’t get sued because you infected your patient with someone else’s harmful virus or bacteria.

What!? You’re probably thinking that even suggesting cross-contamination is ridiculous.

Not really. 15% of “sterilized” burs and up to 76% of “sterilized” endodontic files carry pathogenic micro-organisms which can live on objects and surfaces for as long as a week.  Even autoclaving often fails to completely decontaminate the complex, rough surfaces of burs.

This is not just about oral health. It is whole-body health. Increased exposure from cross contamination to strains of resistant bacteria and viruses represents an especially serious health threat for patients with compromised immune systems, the elderly, ill, and cancer survivors.

So while you would not knowingly and deliberately cross-contaminate a patient, are you willing to chance it?  A 15% chance?  22%?  Where do you draw the line?

Why not virtually eliminate the chance of cross-contamination from drills, needles and scalpels by replacing them whenever possible with a WaterLase dental laser system? The WaterLase has single-use, disposable tips that do not contact the tooth, so they cannot harbor debris or bacteria, as does the abrasive surface of burs and files.  Furthermore, the laser energy itself is bactericidal. Double protection. For more information about all this, go to

The bottom line is that using WaterLase in lieu of burs or endodontic files may reduce the the chance of cross-contamination. Be good to your patients. Avoid crossing the ‘cross-contamination line.’

Author: Joe Skillin