Ozone Therapy is improving outcomes in dentistry in surprising ways.
Ozone is a naturally occurring element that you mostly hear about in relation to the ozone layer, which protects the earth from harmful radiation from the sun. Scientists have been finding many other ways that ozone therapy can protect us.
In recent years, ozone therapy has become an important part of our dental practice. We use ozone primarily in the treatment of gum disease and particularly chronic or recurrent infections. Ozone is effective as a disinfectant and an anti-inflammatory, and ozone treatment has also been found to improve circulation in the mouth, stimulate regeneration and assist with capillary bleeding. It has even been indicated for plaque control and the reduction of dental carries. Ozone has also been used very effectively as a natural disinfectant on instruments and surfaces in surgeries.
In the mid-1800s ozone was used as means of purifying water in Europe. It’s still used on a massive scale in Europe to treat water going into towns and cities today. It’s more effective than chlorine, fluoride or other disinfectants because only a small amount of ozone is required in solution.
We have a central unit at the practice that ozonates all the water we use. Then, we have another device in the treatment room which ozonates the water even further — up to four or five parts per million — for use in treatment.
We can use this water (with a very small amount of soap) to disinfect surfaces without the need for harsh commercial disinfectants. Some people have allergic reactions to commercial or industrial disinfectants and the ozone water is safe for them. Ozone is actually more effective as a disinfectant than chlorine and kills a wider range of organisms while removing odours.
We also use ozonated water in our dental units. The water that comes out of our dental unit is highly ozonated, which has a number of benefits. First, the ozone eliminates any biofilm inside the dental unit. That maintenance assures us that any water that comes from the hand pieces or the scalers is ultra clean. Plus we can confidently use the water in rinsing wounds and rinsing inside the mouth. Patients actually use ozone water before treatment instead of rinsing with mouthwash as part of the disinfection process. There’s no chance of getting cross infections from this water.
If there’s a wound inside the mouth or an infection of the bone or the gum, we clean it up and rinse it with ozone water. This offers not just disinfection, but it promotes healing as well. Ozone is a re-calcifying agent that actually strengthens teeth after treatment.
The third ozone machine that we have delivers ozone in the gaseous form, which is in a much higher concentration. It’s almost 200 parts per million and it’s still within very safe limits. The gas delivers ozone directly onto the tooth or wound in a very high concentration. The good thing about ozone is that as soon as it touches anything, it breaks down into oxygen, so, even at this higher concentration, it is very safe for all patients.
Obviously we need to be careful using ozone, and ventilation is very important, but it is a natural element with very versatile uses and a great tool in modern dental practices.