Posted by: Eco-Dentistry Association | October 12, 2011

What exactly IS green dentistry?

 Green dentistry is a vast topic that touches on everything from patient care to dental processes, and the Eco-Dentistry Association  has a very simple definition: It’s the first of the four R’s – the one that comes before Reduce, Re-use, Recycle.
 
It’s Re-think.
 
Rethinking is the most important, and the most fun aspect of a going-green lifestyle. Re-think your way of getting to work; re-think how far your food has to travel to reach your table; re-think your beauty-care products. If you can start this simple practice in your daily life, it will spill into your work habits, making green dentistry natural.

The Eco-Dentistry Association defines green dentistry as practice that:

  • Reduces waste and pollution
  • Saves energy, water and money
  • Incorporates high-tech innovations
  • Is wellness based

Here are some compelling reasons and tips for re-thinking hygiene practice:

Reduce waste & pollution:
 
Re-think infection control and sterilization practices.
 
The EDA estimates 1.7 billion sterilization pouches and 680 million chair barriers, light handle covers and patient bibs end up in landfill each year from US dental offices alone. Consider these cost-saving, planet-saving options for reducing waste and pollution:
  • Switch to re-usable cloth infection control and sterilization products.
  • Choose and eco-friendly disinfectant and line cleaner.
  • Use bulk-prophy paste to reduce the waste from single-serving packaging
Save energy, water and money
 
Re-think your daily habits.
 
Dental offices use a lot of electricity to run compressors, drills, overhead lights, operatory lights and computers. Dental vacuum systems can use as much as 360 gallons of water per day in a typical practice. Simple changes in habits can make a big difference for the planet and the practice bottom line.
  • Make sure  electronic equipment is turned off every night to reduce “phantom load” which is estimated to account for 10% of the typical energy bill.
  • Share the “Save 90 ADay!” Campaign with your patients, encouraging them to turn off the water while they brush their teeth, saving as much as 90 glasses of water per day.
  • Reduce the use of disposables and switch to re-usables and you’ll lower your practice overhead and attract green dentistry patients who prioritize their health.

Incorporates high-tech                                                                                                       

Re-think your tools.

There is a 1:1 correlation between high-tech dentistry and eco-friendly dentistry.

  • Learn to use diode lasers for periodontal therapy.
  • Use digital imaging. If your practice hasn’t made the switch, become familiar with how to operate the various digital imaging systems on the market so you’re green-office ready.

Is wellness-based 

Re-think your role.                                                                                                             

Your value to your patient lies in your technical skill, but also in your role as a health educator, co-therapist and coach.

  • Incorporate aromatherapy. Look for hand sanitizer, lotions and soaps that incorporate essential oils that are calming for patients, helping them relax and prepare for a healing experience in your chair.
  • Share research and information about the relationship of periodontal disease to diabetes, heart disease and other chronic illnesses with your patients.
  • Read labels. Check out the ingredients of the dental products you’re recommending, and make sure they don’t include sodium lauryl sulphate, alcohol or titanium dioxide (often found in whitening toothpastes, this ingredient is also found in wall paint!)
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Responses

  1. Here’s a thought on re-thinking dentistry . . . eliminate the need for disinfecting chemicals in the dental unit water lines. Instead of treating the water in the dental unit in an attempt to disinfect the water lines, or agressively chemically shocking the system . . . only to have the same dirty water lines in a couple of days. Why not sterilize the water delivery lines? Providing safe, sterile water to every patient without the water ever traveling through biofilm laden hoses . . . 0 cfu/ml for every patient. Going green can save dentist’s money and provide consumers sterile water for all procedures, saving the planet in the process. Win-win for all.

    A greener, safer, more practical way to do dentistry.


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