As a dentist, working in the oral cavity can certainly create some interesting challenges. We are constantly fighting a battle with infections that are found in the soft tissue and/or the underlining bone structures. These infections can come from bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites.
Conventional methods have taught us to fight these pathogens with antibiotics, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic medications. Although we have experienced years of success with these forms of treatments, we’re now discovering that these microorganisms are becoming more and more resistant to our therapies. Science is trying its best to stay one step ahead of these virulent bugs but we’re beginning to see our arsenal of pharmaceutical weapons becoming less and less effective.
What will the course of action be for health care in the next 20 years? Do we still try to “out-smart” these germs in the future or will there be other alternatives that offer promising results with little or no side effects? There already exists one such alternative therapy, Dental Ozone Therapy.
Welcome to the world of Ozone Therapy. Ozone therapy has a long history of research and clinical application with humans. It was first discovered in 1840 by a German scientist, C.D. Schonbein. The first medical application was in 1870. As of 1929, more than 114 diseases listed throughout Europe and the United States could be treated with oxygen/ozone therapy. Today, in the United States, oxygen/ozone therapy is fully recognized by the medical community in 14 states. Recognition is pending in three other states.
In the last few years, I began investigating the efficacy of ozone therapy in dentistry. I studied the research and evaluated the science (Conduct your search at PubMed.gov for “Ozone Dentistry”. There are over 188 peer reviewed articles.) I was simply amazed at how effective ozonated oxygen could be in the oral cavity. It kills pathogenic organisms with no toxic side effects and no toxic byproducts. Therefore, it must be useful and successful for applications in dentistry. Here is a brief overview of how we use this technology in our office.
Prevention and Protection for Patients and Staff
Ozonated water can be used as a pretreatment rinse for our patients to disinfect their oral cavity.
Fill the unit water supply bottles and Ultrasonic units with ozonated water. This protects our patients and staff from aerosol contaminants produced by high speed instruments and water spray from the air/water syringe. Ozonated water in the the unit water lines will disinfect and eliminate all biofilms (a complex community of microorganisms growing on a solid surface – “slime”) from dental unit waterlines. Ozone performs this disinfection and sterilization and leaves only oxygen and water as byproducts disinfection and sterilization and leaves only oxygen and water as byproducts.
In our patient care, ozone is utilized in two forms: (1) ozonated water and (2) pure oxygen/ozone gas. Using these two agents in combination allows the dentist to treat all oral infections using only oxygen and water. Regardless of the location of the type of infection, ozone is able to treat almost any condition.
The ozonated water is the perfect irrigation solution for periodontics, tooth extractions, dry sockets, and even for post operative treatment to help reduce pain and inflammation.
For operative dentistry and periodontics, ozone gas is used to reach and penetrate areas such as carious dentin, dentinal tubules, and periodontal pockets where no other antibiotic or disinfectant can reach.
Ozone gas is also a powerful antimicrobial agent when used to treat the prepared tooth surface before dental fillings are placed or before cementing crowns and fixed bridgework. Post operative discomfort can be significantly reduced by following this protocol.
Nasal insufflations with ozonides and ear insufflations with ozone are also used as methods of differential diagnosis for sensitive teeth in general and joint disorders. Ear and nasal insufflations therapies with ozone gas may also be used to provide a healing environment and thus reduce pain and discomfort from these areas.
All these examples are possible because the infection/inflammation is positively charged (acidic) and the ozone molecule has a negatively charged area (basic). Therefore, the chemistry of the infection and/or inflammation attracts the ozone to the area, oxidizes the pathogen, and thus eliminates the pathogens from spreading.
The use of ozone as a disinfectant device in our office allows us to continue to provide a safe and clean environment not only for our patients but for our staff as well. In addition, dental ozone provides multiple applications as a therapeutic tool to help prevent and/or reduce infectious and inflammatory reactions that we routinely observe every day in the oral cavity.
Our office motto is “keep it safe – keep it simple” and dental ozone certainly fits this mantra.