Skip to content
News / August 15, 2008

Top dentist calls for trial of superbug-buster

by Guy Hiscott

A dentist from Northern Ireland is calling for a powerful antiseptic to be trialled in a hospital to tackle outbreaks of C difficile and MRSA.

Dr Edward Lynch, a world leader in ozone research, claims that when mixed with water it is ‘far safer’ and more effective against ‘superbugs’ than any other established cleaning chemicals such as bleach.

The professor of restorative dentistry at Queen’s University Belfast said new research by his team goes a ‘step further’ than others.

Dr Lynch is hopeful that the use of ozone as a sterilising agent in hospitals could help save many patients’ lives by completely wiping out lethal infections.

He said when added to water, the chemical is more effective than any other sterilising agent.

The study will be presented to the Pan-European Federation of the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) next month.

‘We have tested the efficacy of ozone in biofilms – layers of bacteria – which actually mimics how these bacteria live in nature,’ he said.

‘After testing ozonated water on MRSA and C diff spores on cotton fabric and work surfaces we were amazed at how quickly it killed the bacteria. We were not expecting it to be so powerful.’

Within five minutes of contaminated fabric and worktops being dipped in ozonated water, the bacteria was eradicated.

Previous studies in England and the US have also indicated the benefits of using ozone.

Two hospitals in Sussex have piloted schemes in their laundry system to clean mops contaminated with C diff.

Known as Otex, it differs radically from conventional cleaning systems in that it uses mostly cold water to kill bacteria, viruses and superbugs on all washing cycles.

Dr Lynch commended the trial in the English hospital but said he would like to see ozonated water used as a key weapon in cleaning hospital wards – not just to clean mops.

He accepted however that change is slow in the health service.

‘It takes time to change and accept new ideas. Penicillin took a very long time to be adopted following Fleming’s discovery. Equally, hand-washing among surgeons to prevent disease was not accepted for some time.’

The study will be presented to the Pan-European Federation of the International Association of Dental Research (IADR) on 12 September in London.

• Edward Lynch will be speaking at the Business of bleaching 2008 seminar with Linda Greenwall and Sia Mirfendereski on Monday 3 November 2008 in London. For further information – and to book your place – visit or call +44 (0) 1923 851777.