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Mark Weiser Stands Up for Dental Ozone, Paddle Surfing in Cuba

While touting benefits of using ozone to reverse tooth decay, dentist introduces new sport to island nation

After practicing dentistry for more than three decades, being a star of hit TV shows on two continents, and pioneering the use of dental ozone to reverse tooth decay for the last couple of years, Dr. Mark Weiser thought he had pretty much seen it all.

In June, however, he received a phone call from the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas (CNIC) in Cuba, requesting his presence as a keynote speaker at the organization’s sixth annual international symposium. He realized then that perhaps he had a few frontiers yet to explore.

“When I was invited to the symposium in Cuba, I thought, ‘That’s interesting’,” Weiser told Noozhawk. “I didn’t even think anybody could go to Cuba!”

He was not far off in his thinking, as it turns out. According to Weiser, gaining entrance into the totalitarian communist state was no picnic.

“We have this embargo that’s still in place there, and there are a lot of hurdles to get over to get permission to go,” he explained. “Not only is there the Cuban visa, but the harder one is actually the one through our own State Department, which is what they call a license to travel. That took me about two months to even get permission for.”

Nevertheless, Weiser was finally able to steer his way through the copious amount of red tape, and begin his duties as chairman of the dental section of the symposium, which also offered medical, environmental and industrial sections.

Weiser has been researching the use of ozone in dentistry for the past two years, with incredible results. He said ozone has been widely used in Europe for several years, but the Food and Drug Administration has been dragging its feet on green-lighting specific uses for the substance.

“Ozone is a good killer of any bacteria, fungus, virus — anything,” he said. “Cavities are caused by bacteria; gum disease is bacteria.

“So, we’re using ozone to treat cavities — for example, to sterilize the tooth — and we’re using it to treat gum disease, to get the inflammation out. It’s a very noninvasive way to treat those two conditions.”

Weiser even cited a case in which an onerous MRSA staph infection infection — the result of a botched tattoo removal procedure — was healed through the use of ozone.

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is apparently a proponent of the ozone movement, according to Weiser. Castro made his first public appearance in nearly eight years at the symposium, but it occurred two days after Weiser departed from the island.

At a Havana symposium, Cuban dentists heard Dr. Mark Weiser outline the use of ozone to treat cavities and gum disease.
At a Havana symposium, Cuban dentists heard Dr. Mark Weiser outline the use of ozone to treat cavities and gum disease. (Weiser family photo)

But Weiser stressed that his work at the symposium was only one part of the allure of traveling to Cuba. An avid stand-up surfer, Weiser thought Cuba might be the ideal setting for a little dolce far niente away from the United States.

“I went to Havana, so I found the Havana Surf Club, and I e-mailed these guys, asking them if they could maybe hook me up with a surf board,” Weiser said. “Apparently, surfing is not a recognized sport by Fidel, so they get no financing, and the only surfboards they ever get are the ones that outsiders bring in.

“I asked these guys, ‘Have you ever seen a stand-up board there?’ They said they didn’t even know what that was!” he said. “So I actually brought the very first stand-up board that they had ever seen to that part of Cuba — paddle and everything!”

Weiser’s Cuba adventure was not the first time he had been in the spotlight. From 2004 to 2008, he starred on the Extreme Makeover in America reality TV show — as well as the European version, A Brand New You — and helped the less dentally fortunate attain a $1 million smile. He says the opportunity to travel to Cuba was a gratifying experience professionally.

“We got some dramatic cases — before and afters — but when we completed our procedures, they were incredibly appreciative,” Weiser said. “Honestly, they were the most appreciative bunch of people I have ever worked with, and in a way, it gave them a new lease on their lives.”

One interesting dichotomy that Weiser noted was the overall feeling that he got from the Cuban people concerning their feelings about Americans, and America as a democracy.

“The Cuban people don’t have a bad impression of Americans at all,” Weiser said. “On the other hand, they don’t want to be like us either. They really like their system, and they love Fidel.”

Cuba, which has a universal health-care system, directed a bright light on a domestically explosive subject for Weiser. He says he noticed several positives and negatives to the concept of universal health care, adding that it is little wonder it is such a divisive issue here.

“The thing is, they don’t know any different, so they have nothing to compare it to, in terms of going to a private clinic — so they seem to be OK,” Weiser said. “The level of care is not where ours is. They just do the basic stuff. But they get decent care.

“On the other side of the coin, the people providing the care — the doctors — get paid nothing. They get $200 to $300 per month.”

When asked what the incentive was to go to medical school in a socialist society, to spend the necessary money, time and effort to earn a pittance, Weiser was essentially — and understandably — at a loss.

“It’s just brutal,” he said. “I suppose it’s still more than what the average Joe gets paid ... but not much. Really not much.”

Noozhawk contributor Kevin McFadden can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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