Posts Tagged ‘Colony-forming unit’

For more on how the SpiroFlo device takes biofilm from “too many to count” to statistically zero in just one pass, all with no chemicals and no additional power source/carbon footprint, see here.

SpiroFlo shares a conversation with a dentist office about biofilm (bacteria that grows wherever there is water—including in dental lines) and notes what treatments they’ve used in the past versus today.

Last time I shared some of the changing standards on biofilm treatment from the American Dental Association (ADA). Now knowing what I know about biofilm makes it even less pleasant to go to the dentist. It’s like a friend of mine who was a germaphobe before she became a microbiologist. Her researching just how wrong ‘the five-second rule’ with food is didn’t do her any favors. Thus, when I see areas roped off at the dentist or I’m sitting in the creepiest of their chairs (read: ALL OF THEM), I start asking questions.

So, yeah, pretty much every time I’m at the dentist I’m asking questions. The same thing happens when I visit doctors, but that’s a different train wreck.

Mmm, germilicious

This time though, I got an open hygienist and dentist, as this particular office recognizes that they have to stay ahead of the curve where biofilm is concerned. As mentioned previously, the standard chemical treatments of monochloramine don’t work, but as they’re largely the option for biofilm mitigation, many places stick with a “It doesn’t work, but keep doing it anyway” mantra. Instead, this dental office has daily treatment tabs for their water, and, once every few months, they use an overnight chemical treatment then flush their lines.

I think his shades have gotten bigger since this time…

Sterilex has a 100% kill rate for biofilm, but to get that title, they had to spend 10 years and millions of dollars with the EPA. (It’s part of the reason your bathroom cleaner claims it kills 99.9% of bacteria—because that last 0.1% claim is very costly to prove.) Thus Sterilex is expensive and the biofilm starts growing back right away, usually in the very same problem areas.

However, no matter how much this dentist office flushed their water lines after Sterilex, patients complained of a bitter aftertaste. As expensive as Sterilex is, I can’t see anyone who needs their water to taste right—i.e. dentists or drinking water companies—wanting to spend even more on treating the water again, especially as filters can be biofilm-prone areas (essentially perpetuating the costs and the cycle). In addition, Sterilex has a warning about not getting it in your eyes, so that’s not exactly encouraging when you’ve got a crap-aim hygienist hosing your pearly whites with reckless abandon. If nothing else, you better hang on to your Bono shades…

So this dentist, along with many others, uses a form of chlorhexidine instead. Chlorhexidine is a chemical antiseptic used as a rinse, a component of specialized mouthwash, and as a healing agent after dental surgery. Don’t use it too much though—prolonged use turns your teeth and your tongue brown.


However, some studies debate the efficacy of chlorhexidine, and the dentist I spoke with admits that, no matter what chemical treatment they’ve used, they’ve never gotten their bacteria count below 180 CFU (colony-forming units—a microbiological term for estimating bacterial numbers). While 180 may sound like a lot when you talking about bacteria, less than 500 CFU is the standard. Same goes for drinking water standards for acceptable bacteria count.

Bear in mind, this is a dentist office that takes biofilm treatment seriously, and there’s still so much further to go in terms of treatment.

As with any time I speak of biofilm, you have my pity if you’re visiting the dentist soon.

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Colin McKay Miller is the VP of Marketing for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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