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How is ozone therapy used in dentistry?

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Quick Answer

Ozone therapy is used in dentistry to disinfect teeth with cavities and to disinfect root canals prior to filling. Research indicates that ozone therapy is effective as a disinfectant, but little is known about its long-term effectiveness, according to The Center for Natural Dentistry.

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There are three ozone machines currently in use that can disinfect tooth decay beneath the enamel surface. Protocols require ozone to be introduced in two or more one-minute applications to kill bacteria within cavities, reports The Center for Natural Dentistry. Research indicates that ozone therapy is highly effective for beneath-the-surface cavity disinfection. The same ozone machines are used in root canal therapy to disinfect roots after cleaning out the surrounding nerves and blood vessels. The drawback to using ozone as a disinfectant in root canal therapy is that many bacteria can flourish under harsh conditions and are highly persistent.

Dentin in teeth is composed of microscopic tubes called dentinal tubules; the average tooth contains about three miles of these tubules lined up end-to-end. Studies show that ozone therapy works to disinfect these tubules, but after about a year, toxin-producing bacteria can return. After the root canal is filled, there is no blood flow through this space, so the body cannot fight bacteria that survive in the absence of oxygen. Extraction of the tooth is a better long-term solution because the ozone therapy has to be repeated on a yearly basis to prevent bacterial infection, according to The Center for Natural Dentistry.

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