What is ozone and why is it used in holistic dentistry? Ozone is a form of oxygen that has three oxygen atoms in its molecule instead of the usual two oxygen atoms. As such, ozone tends to give off a negatively charged oxygen single atom that kills germs. It has found use in dentistry and medicine for killing off infections, fighting disease and promoting the healing of diseased tissue.
How new is ozone use in medicine and dentistry? As a medical tool, ozone dates back to the turn of the 20th century. It was first used in dentistry in the early 1930’s. Dentists around the world have been using it ever since. But in the United States, politics got in the way of its implementation and unfortunately, it wasn’t used in the US until the middle 1990s. Since then, many states have passed alternative therapy practice acts which permit the use of ozone as well as other modalities. At the national level, the FDA has implemented some regulations but has basically taken a hands-off approach toward the use of ozone in dental offices.
What is the mechanism of ozone’s action? Does it kill good bacteria? Most dental pathologies are bacterially mediated but, to a lesser degree, fungi and viruses play a part in the pathogenesis, Ozone can be a very useful anti-pathogenic tool. It will essentially lyse [break up] the bacterial and fungal cell walls, interrupt the mRNA replication chain and cause an immediate kill off of all pathogens.
How is the ozone generated and applied in a dental office? Ozone gas is generated chairside by a small ozone generator that is fed by pure medical grade oxygen. It can be topically applied to the teeth and gums. It can also be injected into the tissues such as the jawbone. We know that the bone surrounding a root canal treated teeth is heavily populated with bacteria. Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria. Cavities are caused by bacteria. We can reduce or eliminate all of these disease states with the use of ozone. Furthermore, there are other remarkable benefits of ozone in dentistry. Ozone can desensitize teeth. It can be applied to any sensitive area and will eliminate that sensitivity forever. It can also potentiate teeth whitening – almost shockingly so! It truly shines in pediatric care where the need for anesthesia can be lessened immensely. This allows dental care of children to be a lot less threatening and much more comfortable. Oral surgery and implant surgeries both benefit greatly from the use of ozone. The problems of post-operative pain and dry socket are almost completely eliminated with the use of ozone gas, and ozonated water and oils.
How safe is the use of ozone in dentistry? It can be irritating to the lungs, for example, and is possibly injurious if not used correctly. Practitioners need to be properly trained in its uses and the safety issues. Used properly, ozone is a very safe tool.
Where do practitioners learn how to use ozone? There are a couple of ozone conferences each year. The AAOT, the American Academy of Ozone Therapy, meets in May every year. Frontiers in Ozone group meets in Santa Barbara in November of each year, One can easily attend these conferences and learn a great deal about ozone therapies. There are also opportunities to learn in office. Phil Mollica, DDS, one of the leading experts on ozone, travels the country teaching in the dental office. Ozone is a very valuable tool in modern dental care and every dental office should look at implementing its use.