Ozone was first discovered in the mid-19th century by the German chemist Christian Schonbein, who named the first allotrope of a chemical element recognized by science, after the Greek verb ozein ( "to smell" ) from the peculiar odor noted in the air during lightning storms. An allotrope is a variant of a substance on a molecular level, consisting of only one atom. Oxygen (O2) is in the air we breathe, but under certain high energy conditions, lightning storms or heavy wave action at the sea shore, ozone (O3) is formed. Other examples of allotropes that we encounter daily are diamonds and charcoal, both variants of the atom carbon.
Despite the misconception that ozone is harmful and acts as a pollutant, it is an essential part of life on earth. In the upper atmosphere it absorbs UV radiation from the sun, and because it is heavier than air, it falls earthward combining with pollutants cleaning the air. This is nature's wonderful self-cleaning system. When ozone contacts water vapor as it falls, it forms hydrogen peroxide, a component of rainwater, and the reason why rainwater causes plants to grow better than man-made irrigation.
In the 1870s, the first medical application of ozone occurred when Dr. C Lender purified blood in test tubes. Ozone is a powerful and safe antimicrobial agent. Its kill capacity of all microorganisms ( bacteria, virus, fungi and amoeba ) supersedes that of chlorine. One molecule of ozone is equal to 3,000 - 10,000 molecules of chlorine and kills 3,500 times faster. Ozone is utilized in many aspects of our lives. As discussed below in medicine and dentistry, and as a disinfectant in municipal water supplies and swimming pools in replacement of chlorine.
Ozone therapy is routinely used today in medicine and dentistry to fight microbial infection, which is the root cause for many illnesses. When applied to tissues, ozone facilitates the healing response by stimulating the body's own natural immune defenses and improving blood flow. This naturally occurring substance produces what is called a transient oxidative burst, a reaction within tissues that is harmless to human cells due to antioxidants in our cell membranes, but capable of destroying disease-causing microorganisms. There are many ways in which ozone therapy is utilized in dental care. Our self-contained water reservoirs are filled with ozonized water. We use ozone gas to cleanse cavity and crown preparations prior to filling or crown placement. It also is used to reverse early cavity formation and to fight periodontal "gum" disease.