Ozone is a powerful naturally-occurring oxidative agent that is created in the air and our own immune system. Ozone is formed by applying energy to the two-atom oxygen molecule (O2), which causes some portion of those oxygen molecules to become a more reactive three-atom molecule, ozone (O3).
Our immune system creates a solution peroxides and ozone to destroy infections. Special cells called macrophages compartmentalize these oxidative products and release them into bacterial, fungal, and viral infections to destroy them. Human cells in the midst of the macrophage activity are buffered against the activity of peroxides and ozone by an enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Superoxide dismutase deactivates the peroxides and ozone that come into contact with our cells.
Ozone is used extensively to decontaminate food, water, and medical supplies. Ozone has a long track record as a safe and effective decontaminant of drinking water. It has shown a greater disinfection effectiveness against bacteria, viruses, and fungus when compared to chlorination.
Ozone is a reactive gas that destroys bacteria, fungus, and viruses. The destruction is carried out by the reactive oxygen species, that dissolves proteins and lipid barriers. Therefore, unlike other disinfection technologies that leave toxic residues and have difficulty penetrating biofilms, ozone will dissolve the bacteria and viruses into benign waste products like CO2, O2, H2, and H2O. Ozone has a very short half-life of about 20 minutes before it returns to oxygen in an open system.
Naturally, ozone exists in the air we breathe at a varying concentration (0.01-0.08 ppm)1. However, at high concentrations ozone is hazardous to the lungs with prolonged exposure.
At our clinic, ozone-related procedures are performed in isolated, closed systems, and conducted at low concentrations for short periods of time. Please be assured that patients’ airways will not be exposed to ozone at any levels of ozone above those found naturally in the air we breathe. If there are indications and patient consent to irrigate a site with ozone in the oral cavity, the patient will have protective implements to ensure safe and effective care.
The dark and isolated dental office water lines can be a breeding ground for bacteria and fungus if not continually disinfected. Over the years there have been a variety of charged salts, activated metal solutions, bleaches, filters, and synthetic quaternary ammoniums that have been used by the dental industry to disinfect their water lines. There are many drawbacks to these methods, as bleaches and charged salts create trihalomethanes (carcinogens) when they contact organic matter2, quaternary ammonium residues breakdown slowly and are toxic if ingested at any point in the food chain, and activated filters cannot be reused or effectively recycled.
Our team has elected to disinfect our water lines in the most health conscious way. We sterilize distilled water in a closed system with low levels of ozone gas. Our dental units receive this ozonated water, where the ozone deactivates in the water reservoir and lines prior to any patient contact. Any organic debris in the water lines is broken down to its basic elements, mainly hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Ultimately, the water that the patient receives for their dental work is disinfected and very pure distilled water.
At MNDS, one of our aims is to provide dental care that has a beneficial impact on the rest of the body. Bacterial infections of the mouth have whole-body consequences of increased inflammation as well as localized tissue destruction. To combat these infections, oral antibiotics are often prescribed, but there are consequences to the healthy bacteria of the body when these medications are given.
Localized placement of ozone gas in contact with bacterial infection has shown a disinfection capacity equal to, or better than treatment with oral antibiotics3,4,5,6,7,8,9. Therefore, our team offers our patients the choice to irrigate an oral infection with a mildly concentrated ozone gas. When ozone irrigation is occurring, the patient and staff are kept from inhaling the additional ozone through the use of high-speed suction isolation and barriers.