Past Newsletter: May 2009

Past Newsletter: May 2009


We are all too aware of the stress that goes hand-in-hand with a visit to the dentist. Largely it’s because of the fear of pain and discomfort that is usually associated with treatments such as fillings and root canals. New advances in treatments are providing some peace of mind.

In our second newsletter, we provide you with interesting insights into the benefits of Ozone treatment. It has many advantages, with pain free dentistry at the top of the list.

I hope this informative article sheds light on how you are now able to minimise the trauma of a visit to the dentist whilst availing of a treatment that keeps your teeth healthier.

Yours sincerely
Dr Aleksandra Cerny

Ozone therapy – a revolutionary treatment for painless dentistry and healthier teeth : By Dr Aleksandra Cerny

A visit to the dentist is usually accompanied by angst and uncertainty rather than a feeling of calm collectedness. This may be due to a traumatic past experience or simply the possibility that you might require a filling or worse….a root canal. Ozone, a treatment that is relatively new to the South African market, is changing dentistry dramatically.

Ozone provides patients, especially children, with a painless experience that is a welcome alternative to the traditional dental approach. It prevents decay, limiting the prospect of future treatment. It also prevents mineral loss and assists to remineralise and generate new tissue.

But first, what is ozone? Ozone is oxygen (O2) with an additional molecule, making it O3. Originally used in medicine, Ozone has been successfully used to disinfect and prevent the spread of bacterial infections and necrosis such as gangrene.

It’s powerful disinfecting and antibacterial properties are now delivering significant benefits in the field of dentistry. Most noteworthy is the fact that it is no longer necessary to destroy tooth tissue to eliminate bacteria.

It is important to highlight how we land up with cavities and end up having to have a filling or even a root canal. Our bodies have a natural alkaline and acid balance and our mouths are no different. When we begin to eat, the surface of our teeth lose minerals into our saliva, usually just after we begin to eat. As we naturally have bacteria in our mouths, these bacteria attach themselves to the tooth surface and multiply over time. This bacteria forms acid which attaches itself to the tooth, resulting firstly in a lesion and later on a cavity, especially when regular brushing and flossing are neglected. As these cavities are difficult to reach and clean, decay accelerates.

In order to halt the decay, dentists resort to what is known as ‘amputating’ the part of the infected tooth, a practice from Victorian times that involves the dreaded drill. A filling is placed over the hole and can last anything from 6 months to a number of years. The filling usually needs to be replaced at some point with more drilling and removal of infected tissue and bacteria.

There are three main areas where Ozone can be applied with the KaVo HealOzone device. The equipment consists of a diagnostic reader, an air-abrasive gun which opens the lesion in a tooth and specific fittings for various dental procedures whereby Ozone is applied to the tooth.

Initially, the diagnostic lazer reader is applied to establish the extent of decay on the tooth. If the reading is 0 – 13, this means there is no decay on the tooth. If the reading is 14 – 55, this means there is superficial decay which has affected the first ‘layer’ of the tooth and does not require much drilling. Even if some drilling is performed there is no need for an injection to control pain. However, if the reading is higher than 56, this means that drilling is unavoidable but treatment can still incorporate Ozone therapy.

During the early stages of mineral loss, Ozone is ‘blasted’ onto the tooth, killing the bacteria and assisting the tooth to remineralise on its surface. This does not require a drill and is completely painless. In some cases, if there is a very small lesion, there is no need for a filling as Ozone treatment will suffice, allowing the tooth to heal itself.

If decay has progressed to a reading of 56 or more and a filling is required, Ozone is applied before the filling placement. The Ozone treatment kills bacteria that would have otherwise been trapped when filling the cavity. This significantly reduces sensitivity and prevents future infection and decay that could result in damage to the nerve and thus a root canal treatment.

On the issue of sensitivity, many of us have experienced pain from cold or even just after a filling or root canal. This is due to smaller nerves in the tooth that are housed in small canals or dentinal tubules. These are situated in the dentine of the tooth, a tissue that lies beneath and supports the enamel. When these dentinal tubules are exposed, it causes sensitivity. Applying Ozone to these areas, sensitivity is significantly reduced as it promotes the growth of secondary dentine and closes the exposed tubules which contain smaller nerves.

Ozone is also used in the treatment of sensitivity around the ‘neck’ of the tooth. This is the area where the enamel meets the gum. Often, due to aging and bad habits such as grinding and clenching, the neck is exposed and this area is what we term ‘hypersensitive’. However, it is important to understand that the cause must be treated (such as providing a guard to prevent grinding) before embarking on Ozone treatment.

With root canal treatments, although the main nerve is removed and cannot be saved, applying Ozone (which penetrates through the tooth tissue down into the root canal) reaches the bone and disinfects the areas that are not accessible using traditional root canal treatment.

The use of Ozone in dental treatments is standard in Europe where medical aids cover this treatment, while in South Africa, medical aids do not yet contribute towards the therapy. In my opinion prevention is certainly better than cure. When it comes to dentistry an investment in Ozone treatment can deliver a long-term cost benefit as well as extend the natural ‘life’ of your teeth.