Ozone is more than a keyword in environment circles. Today, it is also becoming a strong topic among medical practitioners and dental professionals. For a good reason, the latest innovation in the medical and dental field harnesses the power of ozone to tackle a myriad of conditions ranging from diabetes to dental infections. The far-reaching possibilities of ozone therapy is almost like a miracle and to conventional medicine, this premise may appear to be straight out of science fiction.
A Brief Historical Background
Even before it became a hot button issue among environmentalists, scientists have been conducting research on the therapeutic qualities of ozone. Discovered by German chemist Christian Friedrich Schonbein in 1840, ozone is a naturally occurring and nutrient rich gas composed of three oxygen atoms. It is colourless with a sharp odour and it mainly functions to prevent harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation from reaching the earth. Its role is so vital that damage in the ozone layer has impacts on all living beings.
Apart from this crucial function however, scientists also realized that ozone has high-oxidizing and antibacterial properties. Interest in it grew and many – including the famous inventor Nikola Tesla - believed and explored its potential.
Since then, ozone has been used to disinfect drinking water, treat wounds, and to counteract diseases. However, a high concentration of ozone is toxic and special techniques had to be developed to manage and utilize its properties.
Medical and Dental Use
Application and procedures somewhat differ but ozone therapy essentially operates on the same principle: administering more oxygen to cells to combat pathogens and boost cell repair.
Since aggressive microorganisms in the body cannot tolerate high levels of oxygen, a significant stream of pure oxygen can destroy the pathogens and protect cells from further damage while also aiding in its recuperation. Advocates of minimally or non-invasive and non-toxic treatments will find ozone therapy as the perfect alternative to chemicals and intrusive procedures usually dispensed by orthodox medicine.
The oral cavity is a delicate miniature system and a slight increase in bacteria can disrupt its balance causing oral health problems. Ozone therapy corrects this by targeting harmful bacteria but without the use of intrusive procedures or without leaving toxic traces.
Ozone therapy is already being utilized in countries such as Germany, Cuba, and Russia but much of the international community is still in the dark of its benefits. Recently, a group of ozone therapy supporters visited the Philippines and endorsed its use. Safe and practical, the country and our citizens can benefit from knowing more about this technology.
Future in Dentistry
Dr Phil Mollica, President and Professor at the American College of Integrative Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey, identifies on his website Ozone for Dentistry, two vital roles ozone therapy has in dentistry.
First is for prevention and protection, ozonated water can be a pre-treatment rinse for patients. The use of ozonated water for equipment also keeps the environment sterilized and prevents infection caused by aerial contaminants brought about by high-speed drilling. And second, for controlling infection, ozonated water and gas can penetrate infected areas and other pockets that antibiotics or disinfectantscannot reach. After a series of treatment and check-ups, the dentist can then proceed with the proper course of action for remedying the patient’s tooth.
Likewise, PubMed’s Strategic Review of Ozone Therapy in Dentistry concluded that the procedure is more economical as it “(l)essens the treatment time with an immense deal of variation and it eradicates the bacterial count more specifically.”
Since the science behind Ozone Therapy may appear like mumbo-jumbo, continuous study and research are still being done on the validity of this treatment. However, results has remained consistent and showed reliability in treating infections with no to minimal side effects. In addition to further research, exploring controls and mechanisms in ozone therapy application could help the treatment into mainstream medicine.
As the fields of medicine and dentistry are shifting towards non-toxic or minimally (or non) invasive procedures, dental professionals should look into ozone therapy and discover its many benefits to patients and their practice.