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A complex structure adhering to surfaces that are regularly in contact with water, consisting of colonies of bacteria and usually other microorganisms such as yeasts, fungi and protozoa that secrete a mucilaginous protective coating in which they are encased. Biofilms can form on solid or liquid surfaces as well as on soft tissue in living organisms, and are typically resistant to conventional methods of disinfection. Dental plaque, the slimy coating that fouls pipes and tanks and algal mats on bodies of water, are examples of biofilms. The different species of disease-causing pathogens in dental waterline biofilm can number in the hundreds.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

The levels of bacteria in water from newly installed dental unit waterlines can reach 200,000 CFU/mL of water within five days of installation. The small diameter of dental tubing creates a high surface-to-volume ratio for enhanced biofilm growth.

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