We’ve all heard of ozone, but how many of us know what it really is? Ozone is a gas composed of three oxygen molecules. Because of its atomic structure, ozone possesses energetic and reactive properties that contribute to its multifaceted nature.
The formation of the ozone layer in the stratosphere shields Earth’s surface from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Without it, life could not exist. This is the “good” part of ozone.
The “bad” part is the ozone that’s created when hydrocarbon pollutants from vehicles, equipment and industrial plants react with oxygen in the presence of sunlight. This ground-based ozone is entirely associated with pollution and can be harmful to people and animals, especially those with respiratory issues.
The “beautiful” thing about ozone is it produces beneficial outcomes related to disinfection and healing. Ozone has been used since the early 1900s to industrially sanitize drinking water and disinfect produce. Its use in air purification systems is highly effective in killing microbes.
In dentistry, ozone has several important applications. Most dental drill systems have closed systems that allow proper maintenance of water quality. Using ozonated water instead of harsh chemicals and disinfectants is more effective and safe.
Another application of ozone is in the treatment of tooth decay. The oxygen molecules in ozone penetrate into the tiny tubules that exist in dentin and house nerve endings. Ozone also alkalinizes surfaces and neutralizes acidic surroundings. These properties help to minimize drilling in all stages of decay.
In the fight against gum disease, ozone battles harmful pathogens and boosts the immune system. Inflamed and infected gum pockets are irrigated with ozonated water and later infused with ozone gas. Pathogens are killed and the increased oxygen is pushed into the tissue to induce better blood and lymph flow.
Ozone also helps in healing from oral surgery. After a tooth is extracted, the area is thoroughly rinsed with ozonated water and then infused with ozone gas. Ozone works extremely well to disinfect the surgery site for healing to begin.
There it is: the good, the bad and the beautiful. Essential in our environment, and practical and effective in dentistry, ozone can become a beautiful part of everyone’s oral care regimen.
Dr. Hyo “Tony” Lim, DMD, is the founder of Dental Wellness Centre, 216 Mall Blvd., Ste. 11, King of Prussia. For more information, call 610-265-4485 or visit DentalWellnessCentre.com. October 2017