Dental waste management guidelines
Dental waste management is an important subject for dentists, whether it is for regulatory compliance, environmental care, or legal responsibility. There is a long list of dental waste management guidelines that need to be followed, and in this article, we will try to break it down into some simple, “must follow” rules.
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There are several regulated and potentially dangerous wastes that could cause harm to the environment when dental waste management guidelines are not followed. These guidelines are often updated to prevent materials from leaching into the environment. Waste management in dental clinics is vital to prevent unnecessary pollution and to protect the health of the community. Six main types of dental waste need to be treated in a specific way.
Types of dental waste:
All materials containing amalgam, like amalgam capsules, extracted teeth with amalgam restorations, chair-side trap filters, amalgam scrap, and others, are a source of mercury, which is known to cause harmful effects like the disruption of the nervous system, damage to brain functions, and DNA damage, among others.
Amalgam residues, if not properly disposed of, have the potential to pollute rivers and the environment, as well as harm a community. The use of amalgam separators and an amalgam recycling program, both of which are mandated by rule, are the most effective means to prevent this amalgam waste from entering the environment. Amalgam must be delivered to a facility dedicated to melting metals and recycling mercury. Check out our in-depth article about dental amalgam waste.
- Silver-Containing Wastes
Spent x-ray fixer is a dangerous potential contaminant and should not be tossed down the drain. To deal with this hazardous waste, you could install an in-house silver recovery unit, or collect the water and send it to a specialized service that can process it and recover the silver. Also, x-ray films can be recycled by a refiner like Core Scientific who can recover the silver and pay you back for its value.
- Lead-Containing Wastes
X-ray packets and lead aprons used by x-ray operators both contain lead, which can contaminate the soil and water when disposed of in landfills. These residues need to be disposed of through a lead recycling company after they have reached the end of their use.
Material containing blood and other body fluids, like bandages, is biomedical hazardous waste. The correct way to treat this waste is to enclose it in a biomedical container or double bag, correctly label and refrigerate it. You can use a mail-back service to dispose of this material.
These are expired, unwanted, or unused pharmaceuticals. There are take-back programs that handle this waste and mail-back systems that are an inexpensive way to dispose of this pharmaceutical waste.
Sharps are most instruments including scalpels, blades, needles, glass carpules, and all items that can cut the skin. The correct way of managing this waste is by collecting them in a red or yellow puncture-resistant container with a lid that cannot be removed. You can also use a mail-back system to dispose of sharps. Learn more about dental sharps disposal here.
- Dental scrap
Dental waste par excellence, dental scrap is the material left over after a dentist’s intervention that contains precious metals that can be recycled and refined, with a value that’s higher than the cost of this process. This type of dental waste can actually generate an income for a dental clinic when it’s recycled. For recycling dental scrap, you need to send it to a precious metal refinery like Core Scientific.
Now you know the general dental waste management guidelines, and you can start turning your dental clinic into a greener practice. And if you have some dental scrap to recycle, don’t waste any more time and start refining with the top refinery in the US!
Core Scientific is the leader in dental scrap recycling in North America. We are a direct precious metal refinery specializing in dental scrap refining, and we provide our clients with the highest returns of the industry, 2 to 5 times higher than other providers!
We also hold ourselves to the highest standards of environmental compliance, so you know you are sending your dental waste to a trustworthy facility. We use the latest melting and assay technologies that extract more metals from scrap, making the recycling process more efficient and reducing the environmental footprint.