As dental offices – including ours – reopen around the country, many remain concerned about infection control, and for good reason. You can read more about our ramped up safety protocols here.
One of the most important tools we have for keeping bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in check is ozone. But that’s not something new we’ve brought into our office. We’ve been using ozone for a long time. Why? Read on…
Why We Use Ozone in Our Patients’ Dental Care
We’ve used dental ozone in our office for many years now, and during that time, it’s been great to see so many more dentists come to realize just how much it can help their patients. This has been fueled, in part, by a growing body of research supporting its use – research recently reviewed in a new paper in Medical Gas Research.
“Ozone therapy,” its authors note,
has thus far been utilized with wound healing, dental caries, oral lichen planus, gingivitis and periodontitis, halitosis, osteonecrosis of the jaw, post-surgical pain, plaque and biofilms, root canals, dentin hypersensitivity, temporomandibular joint disorders, and teeth whitening. The utility of ozone will undoubtedly grow if studies continue to show positive outcomes in an increasing number of dental conditions.
Indeed, ozone is a fantastic disinfectant, able to kill off bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Its power comes courtesy of the third oxygen atom that makes up an ozone molecule. The oxygen you breathe has just two atoms (O2), which makes it extremely stable. Ozone (O3) is less stable and wants to lose that third atom.
Where does it go? It readily attaches to pathogens, interfering with their function. Within the human body, O3 also stimulates oxygen metabolism and activates the immune system, offering additional defense against harmful microbes.
Here in our St. Louis office, we start by using only ozonated water in our water lines – and not just for its role in the treatments described below but because it also helps keep the lines clean, free of bacterial biofilms that might otherwise be unwittingly transferred to the patient during treatment.
Here are some of the most common ways we use ozone as part of your dental care:
- Ozonated water is used for irrigation during procedures such as periodontal therapy, extractions, and the treatment of dry socket. It can also be used post-operatively to help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Ozone gas is used to reach and thoroughly penetrate areas that other methods can’t, including carious (decayed) dentin, the dentinal tubules, and periodontal pockets.
- Ozone gas is also a powerful antimicrobial agent when applied to a prepared tooth before a filling, crown, or other restoration is placed. Dr. Rehme finds that post-op discomfort can be significantly reduced in this way.
- For sensitive teeth and joint disorders, gently letting ozone gas flow into the ears or nose – a procedure called “insufflation” – can help provide a healing environment and thus reduce pain and discomfort. Research suggests it may be quite helpful for addressing TMJ pain in particular.
Why should ozone help with pain?
Dr. Frank Shallenberger, among others, has suggested that chronic pain results from a lack of oxygen utilization. “Reverse this,” he says, “and an area of chronic pain will become normal again. Reverse this, and an area of chronic degeneration will begin to regenerate exactly as it was supposed to in the first place.”
Cells need oxygen to heal. Ozone stimulates the healing response.
Clearly, dental ozone has many roles to play in reducing the infectious and inflammatory reactions we routinely see in people’s mouths. And yet it’s so simple: three little atoms of oxygen packing an incredibly powerful punch.
And it perfectly fits our office motto: Keep it safe – keep it simple.