Ozone is kind of a funny thing. At ground level, it can be quite harmful to human health, mixing with other pollutants to form smog. Miles above the Earth, though, it protects us by forming a layer that absorbs UV radiation from the sun.
What’s harmful in one context is helpful in another. In fact, ozone has been used in healthcare for roughly 150 years now as a safe and powerful disinfecting agent.
This is because each molecule has one more atom of oxygen than the molecules in the oxygen that our life depends on. It’s O3 instead of O2. That extra atom makes all the difference, giving ozone the power to kill harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. According to Drs. Phil Mollica and Robert Harris – experts in dental ozone – one ozone molecule is equal to as many as 10,000 molecules of chlorine and kills pathogens 3500 times faster!
Because of this, holistic, biologic dentists like Dr. Parsi have made it an important part of their patient care. Whether in our San Diego office or our location in Chula Vista, we use ozone in a few forms – ozonated water (which also helps keep our water lines clean!), ozonated oil, and ozone gas – and for an ever-growing range of procedures.
For instance, when we’re treating gum disease, adding ozone to regular periodontal therapy tends to deliver better results than perio treatment alone. This was most recently demonstrated through a double-blind, randomized trial in which some patients got the usual scaling and root planing (SRP) – a “deep cleaning” – while others got SRP plus ozone. Both treatments helped, but those in the ozone group had even less bleeding while probing and shallower periodontal pockets.
Similarly, ozone can be used to treat decay, as it readily kills the harmful bacteria that drive the disease process. If the decay hasn’t reached a tooth’s dentin – the tissue below the enamel – this may be enough to give the tooth an opportunity to remineralize through improved diet and hygiene. But even if the decay has reached the dentin, ozone therapy may mean that we don’t need to drill so much to repair the tooth.
Ozone means that nontoxic root canal treatment is an option, for in its gaseous form, it can reach areas of the tooth that the usual chemical disinfectants can’t reach. This greatly reduces the likelihood of residual infection causing the root canal to fail, turning the tooth into a potential contributor to systemic illness.
In surgical situations, we can use ozone to cleanse tissues around the site being worked on – even to treat cavitations (areas of dead and decaying tissue that can form under healthy-looking gum tissue) so the lesions can finally heal properly. For although infection control is one of the main motivations for using ozone in dentistry, ozone has other biological effects, as well:
- Improved immune function.
- Increased oxygen uptake by cells.
- Improved circulation.
- Increased antioxidant protection.
- Improved mitochondrial function.
All of these make ozone a wonderful support, stimulating the body’s innate healing abilities.
Nor are all of the above the only dental uses for ozone. A recent paper reviews not only the science behind these uses but also points to even more possibilities, such as reducing the risk of infection around dental implants (peri-implantitis) and improving integration of implants with the supporting bone, treating TMJ disorders – even reducing the demineralization that can occur around conventional orthodontic brackets.
You can see why ozone is such a big deal in our office!
Don’t want to wait until your next visit with us to start harnessing the power of ozone for yourself? Ozonated oils are easy to find online and can be applied directly to your gums with an interdental brush or “soft pick” after you brush and floss. You can even buy a unit that will help you ozonate water you can rinse with regularly at home. One 2017 study found that rinsing with ozonated water was actually more effective than a conventional antimicrobial rinse at reducing levels of S. mutans in the mouth, one of the main bacteria involved in tooth decay!
Something to consider when you’re ready to take your oral health and hygiene to the next level…