Ozone in the stratosphere deflects harmful solar radiation, but ground level ozone has well-studied and cumulative deleterious health effects. The use of ozone therapy is advocated as a form of alternative medicine but there is no scientific evidence supporting its use in treatment of specific diseases. After a review of extant science, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sharply questioned the effectiveness or safety of ozone generators sold as air cleaners. Ozone has a capacity to oxidize organic compounds, and has well-known toxic effects on the respiratory tract when present in smog.
Some marketers of ozone generators make fantastic promotional claims that ozone is a miraculous cure for all disease including cancer and AIDS, but these claims remain unproven. Ozone can disinfect surfaces and water if it is administered for at least two hours at a concentration of 1200 parts per million. It has been proposed as a treatment for AIDS and though it does deactivate the viral particles outside the body, there is no evidence of benefits to living patients.
Summarizing the substantial and growing body of study results showing deleterious health effects, in 1976, and reiterated in 2006, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reflects the scientific consensus that ozone is a toxic gas which has, as yet, no demonstrated safe medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy. One possible reason, noted by the FDA, is that in order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than can be safely tolerated by man or other animals.
Ozone has been suggested for use in dentistry, though overall the existing evidence does not support its use.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has today (27th July 2005) issued guidance on the use of HealOzone on the NHS. NICE has said that HealOzone is not recommended as a treatment for tooth decay within the NHS in England and Wales, unless it is being used as part of a clinical trial.
Andrea Sutcliffe, NICE Planning and Resources Director and Executive Lead for the appraisal says, "After careful consideration of all the evidence, including hearing the views of dentists, people who have had the treatment and the manufacturers, NICE has concluded that there is not enough reliable evidence to show that HealOzone is more effective than existing treatments for decay of the biting surfaces and roots of the teeth. We will consider a review of the guidance in 2008 when we hope there will be further good quality evidence available at that time."
HealOzone is a device dentists can use to treat some types of tooth decay. The HealOzone device releases a gas called ozone. A small cup is placed over the affected tooth to form a seal, and ozone is pumped onto the tooth for up to 2 minutes. After treatment, a special liquid is dripped onto the tooth to remove any remaining ozone and acid, and help the weakened enamel start to harden again by a process called remineralisation. The person is given a kit containing fluoride in the form of toothpaste, mouthwash and mouth spray to use for several weeks, to help the remineralisation process.