Ozone water treatment has been used as a disinfectant for centuries and particularly pulls its weight as a cleaning treatment in the dental surgery.
With its powerful disinfectant properties, ozone has been used as a water treatment since the 1800s. Back then, German towns and cities used ozone to treat water and decrease bacteria, viruses and microorganisms in the water. The ozone disinfection would clean the inside of the pipes as well as the entire water system, and this also reduced the amount of biofilm that could cause cross contamination or diseases to flourish in the water system.
Since then, ozone has become a very effective way to clean as it is incredibly hygienic and organic. We use ozone disinfection methods in our practice for cleaning as well as to flush the water pipes, which is done through our central ozonation system. All the water that comes out of our taps and our dental unit has been ozone treated, so this means that water used in patients’ mouths is ultra-clean and not harmful in any way, which falls within the concept of biological and holistic dentistry.
We also use ozonated water as a general cleaner. All surfaces are wiped down with ozonated water, including the floors and any contaminated surfaces following treatments. Ozone disinfection is powerful enough to clean away surface contamination, and means we don’t need to use commercially available products that contain chemicals. This assures patients that we have a biological sensitive approach to cleaning and disinfecting in our practice. For our instruments, all tools are first cleaned in ozonated water before they are sterilized. This also reinforces the concept of biologically controlling any cross contamination or infections that can arise from working in a dental surgery.
One of the contamination risks comes from the volume of drilling activity and the amount of aerosol that hangs in the air. By using ozonated water in drilling instead of normal water, this aerosol is disinfected so the level of bacteria or viruses that stay in the air is reduced. This is particularly effective if you’re treating patients who may have the flu or some illness. Using regular water creates a massive cloud of bacteria hanging in the air, but using ozonated water while drilling instantly kills anything that comes out of the mouth.
Ozone is formed by splitting the oxygen molecules, which are two oxygen atoms bonded together by two bonds. This split happens in an electric chamber but it also happens in nature, as there is a layer of ozone in the atmosphere. The electric currents run through the oxygen molecules, splitting them into two oxygen atoms. These oxygen atoms are highly reactive and they bond to another oxygen molecule forming three, which becomes ozone (o3) instead of oxygen (o2).
The ozone is an oxidant that converts organic material into their base compounds. It is highly reactive, because the extra oxygen molecule doesn’t like its position. As soon as it touches any surface, it breaks out and becomes a free oxygen atom again, ready to bind to anything.
Ozone can’t affect healthy tissue because these cells have antioxidants, which neutralize the effect of the ozone straightaway. Because unhealthy diseased tissues and microorganisms don’t have antioxidants, they are very vulnerable to extra oxidants. As soon as the ozone touches or binds to the surface, it kills the microorganisms almost instantly. This is how the ozone disinfection works, whether it’s in the air, on a surface, or in a patient’s mouth.