Oxygen and Ozone in Dentistry – the Dynamic Duo
By Jacques Doueck DDS
When one of my patients first saw my setup for ozonating the water in our office he asked me, “What is that setup, Dr. Frankenstein?”. I have to admit when you first see the set up it looks like a science lab and I feel like a mad scientist. But oxygen and ozone have become an essential part of state-of-the-art dental care. We use oxygen and ozone to kill bacteria, freshen bad breath, heal infected gums, treat deep cavities, whiten teeth, and avoid root canals. Ozonated water is very effective in killing bacteria and yet is safe enough to drink by the glassful. Ozone is what keeps the water that runs through our dental equipment free of the biofilm that is loaded with bacteria. We make fresh Ozonated water ever day since it has a limited shelf life. Besides running it through our dental equipment we use it to clean and disinfect deep cavities. Our dental hygienist runs it through the Cavitron Scaler in order to flush the bacteria out of the deep gum pockets which helps the gums heal. Patients with gum disease or bad breath are sent home with a special rinse that they make fresh every time. The rinse comes in two bottles. The patient squirts an 1/8 ounce from each bottle into a small cup and then wait 30 seconds for the mix to activate. Once the mix is activated the patient rinses for 15 seconds. This freshly made oxygenating rinse is amazingly effective for controlling bacteria that cause gum disease and really works for bad breath.
What makes oxygen and ozone so effective in disinfecting waterlines and deep cavities and whitening. discolored teeth? Neutrophils are the protective cells in your body. These cells fight bacteria by rapid generation and release of reactive oxygen. They create an “Oxidative Burst” which has the ability to kill bacteria and viruses by exploding the cell wall without damaging healthy cells of the body. We use oxygen and ozone in a similar way to create an “oxidative burst” which is also very powerful in attacking bad breath and whitening teeth. Ozone disinfects 3,000 times better than bleach, chlorine, or other commonly-used disinfectant chemicals, with virtually no side effects. If you have a retainer, partial or full denture or night guard you may want to invest $50 in the NatureZone, a home Ozone Disinfector. Ozone and UV light reach deep into porous materials to clean and disinfect and eliminate the smell created by the bacteria, viruses, molds, yeasts, and other deadly pathogens.
We are most excited… about using pure ozone/oxygen gas to treat deep cavities that reach the nerve. This allows us to avoid root canal in 80% of cavities that go into the nerve. Instead of the expense and inconvenience of a root canal it is a satisfying feeling to really help people save money and avoid the hassle of extra visits.
Ozone is a naturally occurring antimicrobial agent. Ozone therapy works three basic ways. The ozone molecule directly kills microbes. Second, the dead microbes release compounds from their cell membranes that cause a “biological cascade”. This cascade is the natural defense mechanism of the body to fight infection and heal. Finally, ozone breaks down to oxygen when it is done killing infection. Therefore it introduces oxygen into the anaerobic (oxygen lacking) infected area which helps kill infection. Ozone is produced by passing medical grade oxygen though an ozone generator.Therefore, the correct term for the gas is oxygen/ozone.
Is the water in my dentist’s office safe? Why Ozonated water is a Real Solution
By Jacques Doueck DDS
For many people going to the dentist is a traumatic experience. Now imagine that the water used during all of those dental procedures was so laden with bacteria, some experts compare it to stagnant pond water. Investigations revealed startling levels of bacteria. Almost 90 percent of the water samples tested did not meet federal drinking water standards.
Why is dental water often full of bacteria? The problem stems from the design of the water lines that feed the dental tools. Underneath the chair and tied to all the equipment visible in the office are tubes that hold the water used in procedures.
When the instruments are not in use, the water sits inside the tubing and stagnates. The small number of environmental bacteria naturally found in the city water quickly multiply and clings to the walls of the tubing. When the equipment is used again, the bacteria can be flushed into the mouths, of patients.
The University of Louisville Dental School, tested the water from more than 60 dental offices across the nation. The organisms found in the water are environmental bacteria and generally not harmful to most people. But you shouldn’t be exposed to these levels of bacteria when you’re in a health-care facility. The bacteria can potentially cause disease, especially to people who have weakened immune systems.
Biofilms are microscopic communities that consist primarily of naturally occurring water bacteria and fungi. They form thin layers on virtually all surfaces, including dental water delivery systems. These common microbes or germs accumulate inside things like showerheads, faucets and fountains, and in the thin tubes used to deliver water in dental treatment.
Will biofilms harm me?
In our environment, we are exposed to countless germs or bacteria. Yet, exposure to these common microbes does not mean that an individual will get an infection or a disease. However, when a person’s immune system is compromised because of age, smoking, heavy drinking, being a transplant or cancer patient or because of HIV infection, he or she may have more difficulty fighting off the invading germs. This is why the American Dental Association encourages patients who may have weakened immune systems to inform their dentist at the beginning of any treatment. That way, the patient and dentist together can make the right treatment decisions.
The most effective way for dentists to deal with this problem :
1) Dental assistants must use chemical treatments to flush out the lines every day.
2) use of sterile water instead of the city water supply in the dental unit waterline
3) use of continuous flow of ozonated water or chlorhexidine as a disinfecting treatment
4) daily flushing of all outlets and before each dental treatment
5) use of water filters upstream of the instruments
6) annual monitoring of the waterline
Unfortunately, unless the dental office staff are on top of this problem – most dentists are probably still using contaminated water in their offices. Ask the dental assistants what they do to make sure the waterlines are free of bacteria.
In our office, as the Ozonated water sits in the waterline, biofilm will be killed, layer by layer. Before each patient the lines are flushed of the dead bacteria which prevents their migration into the patient’s mouth.
How serious is the risk?
The University of Louisville, Kentucky studied Water samples collected from 28 dental facilities in six U.S. states and found significant levels of Legionella pneumophila bacteria. The Lancet medical journal describes a case report of an 82-year-old woman died of Legionnaires disease after becoming infected with Legionella pneumophila at her dentist. L pneumophila is a Gram-negative bacterium found in man-made water systems and in natural water environments. The source of these highly virulent bacteria which inhabit the dental unit water lines is in the city water system. The normal water treatment procedures done to the water we drink from the tap are proving inadequate in dealing with a wide variety of these “super bugs”. The bacteria can infect individuals by inhalation or microaspiration of aerosolized water causing Pontiac fever (a flu-like disease) or Legionnaires’ disease (severe pneumonia). If you are healthy your body can usually fight the infection and you will never know you were exposed. However immune-compromised patients and the elderly are much more susceptible. Other leading sources of the Legionnaires infection include spas, fountains, air-conditioning systems, and hot-water systems.
Are people getting sick from the bacteria found in dental water? The next time you sit in the dentist’s chair, you may want to ask, “What do you do here to clean the dental water line?”
Why Ozone is Dangerous in Air Purifiers
Surprisingly, as great as Ozone is as a disinfectant we caution our patient…you don’t even need to be exposed to exorbitant amounts of ozone in order to feel its ill effects. Even breathing in small doses, ozone can cause shortness of breath, coughing chest pains, and an irritated throat. Some studies also suggest that ozone can exacerbate conditions like asthma, and can make people more susceptible to coming down with various other illnesses. Without a doubt, living a healthy lifestyle means avoiding ozone; it’s shocking, then, to discover that many air cleaners actually produce ozone as a byproduct, introducing it to the air in your home and exposing you and your loved ones to it.
Ozonated water on the other hand is excellent for home use to wash fruit and vegetables and to safely disinfect your face. Many teenagers have found that frequent washing with ozonated water is a great way to control acne without resorting to strong chemicals or antibiotics.