This guest post is by Mark of dentalcareplus.org.uk.
Eco-friendly dentistry that also goes by the name Green Dentistry is the way of practicing dentistry, causing the least harm to the environment. Eco-friendly dentists follow various measures to reduce waste and pollution and conserve energy. These green practices are beneficial to the environment and also to the wellbeing and health of their patients. Green dentistry helps in identifying strategies that would prevent wastage of water and electricity as well as reduce the amount of waste produced in dental practices.
“Green Thinking” in the Dental Profession
The concept of “green thinking” was introduced in the dental profession with the opening of the very first dental practice to be officially certified “green” in California in the year 2003. This dental practice was that of Ina Pockrass, an attorney and eco activist and her husband Fred, a dentist. Together they founded the EDA (Eco Dentistry Association), which has earned worldwide repute with members in 42 states and eleven countries. Members are required to take a pledge to consider the impact dental materials and processes; office construction, design and furnishings, and office administration and marketing have on the environment. The organization educates dentists on implementing eco friendly measures in their practices, while offering patients the needed resources to locate a green dentist.
Environment friendly efforts made by green dentists are seen reflected in all aspects of dentistry, ranging from office/clinic design, equipment and supplies right down to the toothbrush.
How to Implement Eco-friendly Measures in a Dental Practice
- Green dental clinics have to be designed keeping in mind eco-friendly interior design and construction principles. Wall surfaces can be covered with paints low in Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s). Wall papers made of reclaimed paper pulp and bark can be utilized.
- Natural fibers can be used to replace synthetic fibers in upholstered furnishings and carpets. The carbon footprint can be substantially reduced with the help of low energy lighting and ventilation systems together with energy from sustainable sources.
- Water free vacuum systems are available to considerably reduce the volume of water used.
- Easily sterilized, non-disposable cups can be used to reduce waste. Similarly clothes can be used instead of disposable bibs. Instrument wrappers and head rests can also be made of cloth to help limit buildup of waste.
- Dangerous cleaning compounds can be replaced with safe, non-toxic, bio-degradable products and steam sterilizers that are highly energy efficient.
- Special filtration system such as amalgam separator can safely dispose of old mercury fillings thereby preventing pollution of water supplies. Use of tooth colored fillings will also reduce the amount of mercury disposed into the water systems.
- Disposable supplies end up as waste and therefore green dentists can opt for dry-hand sanitizers which will reduce the requirement for paper and water toweling.
- Dentists can switch to digital X-rays to reduce paper wastage as well as the disposal of toxic X-ray fixer and lead foils into the environment.
- Energy efficient light bulbs and motion sensors can save energy and reduce the carbon footprint.
- Toothbrushes manufactured from recycled material and environmentally friendly toothpaste can be advocated to patients.
Eco-friendly dentistry is not only beneficial to the environment, but can also have a beneficial impact on a dental office’s bottom line. There is an increase in the number of dental practices which have gone green, but more dentists have to be made aware of the importance of eco-friendly dentistry.
Dental Care Plus is a dental implant provider with four clinics spread throughout southern England. They were the first UK advanced dentistry provider to lower their dental implant costs to compete with dental tourism. As a result many would-be dental tourists have decided not to fly to destinations such as Hungary or Thailand and receive the treatment in the UK, saving many unnecessary flights. Although not officially certified as a green dentistry, they have also taken several steps to reduce the impact on the environment.
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