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The Death of the Dentist’s Drill?


Back in 2002 we reported on a new technology called HealOzone that promised to do away with dentist’s drills. The article in New Scientist reported – A painless ozone gas treatment for tooth decay could replace injections, drilling and fillings, say its inventors at Queen’s University, Belfast. Four years on and the treatment is available worldwide, although it still hasn’t been fully endorsed by the dental authorities. Nevertheless, in the spirit of adventurous blogging, I decided to try it out and see if it really does remove the horror of the drill from the dentist visit. Read on to find out…

Having made the decision to try out HealOzone on a cracked filling that had been bothering me, it took only a few moments to find a local dentist who offered the treatment from the list at the Ozone Dental site, and a quick email later I was booked up. The visit dawned and I cycled down to A.R.K. Dental Practice in West London and met soft spoken practitioner Greg Gasiorowski for the first time. I explained my interest in the ozone treatment and Greg gently explained the process as he was washing the blood of the last patient from his hands. Nah, just joking folks. It was on the walls. Nah….


The Process…
The whole thing revolves around the incredibly powerful sterilising properties of ozone, which has been documented for a very long time. The idea is that ozone kills bacteria with a ruthless efficiency and so makes it much easier for the dentist to efficiently sterilise any decay on a tooth before or instead of filling. Now here’s the rub. The ‘no drill and needle’ treatment is only really possible where you catch the decay early enough, as with young children or very light surface decay. At that point the ozone treatment and an air compressor cleaner should do the job adequately, with no pain, no fuss. However with deeper cavities, there will always be a need to remove the existing muck before ozonating and sealing with a filling.


The good news is that because the ozone gas penetrates into the tooth and decay, the HealOzone treatment means that the dentist can get away with drilling much less to remove the caries, which means that there’s less chance of hitting that sensitive nerve and ruining your day. Yes please, doc. Removing less tooth material is also much better for the tooth, of course, which is more good news.


So to work
In practice, if you’re an old and decrepit Ferret like me with a lovely decayed tooth cavity, you’re going to experience the drill and the needle, I’m afraid. But as I said, for less time than normal and with less risk of pain. I must say that Greg is also a master of the needle – didn’t feel a thing, amazing – so my experience was completely pain free from start to finish.

Sequence – preparation of mouth area with some rather strange rubber shield which collects all the detritus from the drilling, numbing pad, needle, bit of poking around and suction, then drill. Nasty sound though, isn’t it, that high pitched squeal? Find myself clutching the chair arms unnecessarily hard. Relax a little and try to think happy thoughts. More drilling and poking and suction.


Then a request for a purple cap. Huh? Ah, the cap over the tooth to ensure the ozone is piped directly onto any remaining decay and not to the rest of my mouth. The tube and cap is applied to my mouth and bleeps from the purple machine in the corner are heard for several seconds. Repeat a couple of times (total ozonation about 20 seconds?), apply filling, drill and shape, apply curing mechanism (bright blue light?). Finish. Total time, less than an hour. Total pain, zero.


So, was it worth it? The price for the treatment seems to vary around £30 to £45.00 a tooth, depending where you go, plus of course the cost of any other work that is necessary, which I think is not a bad price for the extra work and potential benefits. I mentioned before that it hasn’t been fully sanctioned by the dental profession yet, and that seems to be because it is hard to prove long term benefits with any new technology. The dentists seem to like it, judging by their comments, but early adopters are usually fervent enthusiasts of any innovation, aren’t they?

I suppose the big question is will I do it again, and the answer has to be yes, absolutely. The additional process of ozonating is so simple and quick, and the potential benefits from less drilling and long term sterilisation so great that I think it’s a no-brainer. I do, however, look forward keenly to the day when someone invents a drill that runs absolutely silently, especially when carving away chunks of my hard earned mouth calcium.


  • Wow. Now I wanna run out and find a dentist that will do the same for me :).

    By the way, is that your tooth? If so, who was your photographer?

  • Heh, nope I stole the pic from the HealOZone site. No extra photographer available at my session, T. :-)

  • Hmm, that is pretty interesting. I had read about this a few years ago, but did not know that it was implemented yet.

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