March 18, 2004
Revolutionary new technology could eliminate the need to drill dental decay out of teeth. Calgary dentist Dr. Stuart Gough says he has the first HealOzone unit in Canada -- only the second in North America. It uses ozone to remove decay-causing bacteria, allowing the treated tooth to heal. "Tooth decay is the number 1 disease on the planet," said Gough. "This is really good for people who have cavities on the root surfaces and for younger children, as long as they are primary cavities and don"t have a filling on the tooth." He said the treatment is good for people from age five to 95.
Gough said ozone gas destroys any bacteria, virus or fungi that come into contact with it. The bacteria inside teeth is destroyed without damaging the tooth or hurting the patient. He claims the sterilized tooth will re-mineralize, repairing itself.
Gough began using the technology only a couple of weeks ago at his Calgary Smiles Dental Care practice.
The theory behind the technology is that if a patient has a tooth with a decayed area, treating it with ozone means no injections, drilling and filling are required.
Studies have shown that early decay can be reversed, and one course of ozone therapy usually is sufficient.
The procedure consists of a rubber cap fitted to the affected tooth. Ozone gas is then applied to the tooth through a tube and an air-tight seal created by the cap. The gas kills the acid-producing bacteria and then allows the mineral content of saliva to repair the tooth over some time. The technique was developed by Prof. Edward Lynch of Queens University in Belfast.
Gough said costs for the treatment are about $40 per tooth compared with between $100 and $150 for a traditional filling. Patients using the ozone therapy also have to purchase a kit for about $41 which includes a one month"s supply of special toothpaste and mouth rinse."By using the toothpaste and mouth rinse, the teeth become harder than before," said Gough. "Studies have shown that the enamel actually gets harder."
Gough added studies have also shown that within 30 seconds ozone kills 99.9 per cent of the bacteria in a tooth.
Because the ozone gas kills all the organisms it contacts, there is hopethat it will be useful in a multitude of situations in the future.
Kimberly Fibke, director of membership services and communications for the Alberta Dental Association, said part of the reason for new technologies such as the ozone therapy is to alleviate patient fears and pain. "There is always new technology coming in to help patients" comfort or for better treatment that works faster," said Fibke. "(Dentists) are always open to new technology."
The Ozone unit has been designed so no ozone is released until a seal is made against the tooth being treated. Once the tooth has an airtight seal, the gas is applied for between 10 and 40 seconds, depending on the severity of the decay. A mineral wash is then applied to the treated tooth to eliminate any residual ozone and to start the emineralization process. "There is no sensation whatsoever," said Gough. "It"s a gentle sucking on the tooth."
He said there are no side effects with this therapy. And Gough said hardening of the enamel takes place within four to 12 weeks.