What is the difference between shocking, purging, and flushing?
Shocking is the process of running a strong chemical (like diluted bleach) through dental waterlines to eliminate biofilm and bacteria. Shocking essentially gets your lines back to a blank sheet by killing all living organisms in waterlines.
Dental professionals practice purging their dental units to clear lines of water. When purging, it is best to remove and empty the water bottle from the dental unit and then reattach the empty bottle back on the unit. Now when you run the unit, only air will be pushed through your waterlines and force out any water that may be remaining. The best time to purge your waterlines is typically when there is going to be an extended closure of the office for two weeks or more.
Flushing is simply running water through the lines and the handpieces. Flushing is meant to help water from being stagnant in lines and to help extrude any debris or liquids that may have flowed back in from a patients’ mouth. This practice is recommended to be utilized in the following scenarios: 1) First thing in the morning before patients arrive (1-2 minutes) 2) Between seeing different patients (recommend flushing 20-30 seconds) 3) After shocking dental unit waterlines.