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Dentistry is a noble profession. Every day, dentists deal with many different challenges, and lately, the correct management of waste produced by dentistry has added to the already full list of things that dental offices need to consider. The eco-friendly dentistry movement was born with the goal to not only make dental practices “greener” but also to guide and support dental professionals in this ecological path.
Eco-friendly dentistry is a high-tech approach that aims to reduce the environmental impact that can be caused by dental practices. The main strategies used to do so are:
- Using technology to reduce waste generation and pollution.
- Saving water, energy, and therefore money.
- Supporting a healthy lifestyle, thus preventing the need for dental interventions.
How Does Dentistry Disrupt the Environment?
Dentistry can be harmful to the environment. You might know that certain materials are safe to use in the mouth of patients but are unsafe for nature, such as amalgam fillings that contain mercury, one of the most hazardous elements listed in the periodic table.
Another source of potential contamination is blood. Certain dental treatments such as elective surgery, scaling, and extractions often cause a considerable amount of blood to leak out, which can contain a lot of bacteria and microorganisms, and needs to be correctly suctioned and treated to avoid transmission of diseases.
Then, of course, you have to consider the great electricity consumption, the potentially polluting chemicals used for cleaning and sterilization, plastic use, and other common waste generated by all dental practices.
How Can Dentistry Be Made Eco-Friendly?
You can achieve eco-friendly dentistry by taking a couple of simple steps to reduce the negative impact of your practice. The American Dental Association provides a series of recommendations to make dental practices more sustainable; we have put these into six categories: be proactive, use energy-efficient appliances, use green and biodegradable products, reuse and recycle, save water and energy resources, and most importantly educate staff and patients on these behaviors.
Below are some easy methods that all dental professionals can follow to minimize the impact of dental materials on the environment.
Recycle and reuse
Standard residues generated by every business like paper, plastic, and glass can be easily recycled; you just need to promote this recycling culture in your office. Besides that, specific dental wastes, like dental instruments and dental scrap, can also be recycled. Dental scrap can even generate a passive income for your practice, which you could invest in improving your clinic’s sustainability.
Saving resources and using energy-efficient equipment
Dental offices consume a great deal of energy, especially from the specific tools and equipment that dentists need for their job. You can compensate for this by using energy-efficient appliances when possible, like solar panels and water heaters, fluorescent or led lights that save electricity, and ceiling fans instead of air conditioning.
Other ways you can save resources include using water-saving toilets, installing isolating energy-efficient windows, turning off lights and computers when you leave the office for the day, and removing TVs from waiting rooms.
Simple things such as going to work by bike, or carpooling, using reusable water bottles and containers to bring lunch to work, and using services that have sustainable principles, for example, green banks, can all make a difference in the long run, as well as setting an example for your staff, patients and community in general.
This might sound weird, but believe it or not, planting trees and other plants near your dental practice can be very beneficial. It will produce more oxygen in the environment and protect your clinic from heating with the sunlight, reducing the use of air conditioning.
Don’t use polluting products
Chemicals such as white spirits, monomers, and amalgam should be avoided. Amalgam can be replaced with a better filling material such as composite. It is safer for both the patient as well as the environment.
Avoid the use of non-degradable plastics; greener options are available, such as glass irrigation syringes, biodegradable cups and napkins, and stainless steel instruments instead of plastic ones. Consider also going digital to avoid the excessive use of paper. You can implement digital systems for x-rays, billing, and patient management, and this can also save you thousands of dollars.
Education is key
Education is at the base of generating more eco-friendly habits and also preventing the need to use further resources. Educate patients about turning off the water while brushing their teeth and the negative impacts of smoking on their health and the environment. Distribute information about green behaviors for your patients to see.
Proper drainage of body fluids
Some dental units have inappropriate sewage systems. The patient’s blood, saliva, and remnants are often drained into ponds and lakes, which is a major threat to marine life and the ecosystem. A proper channel of drainage is necessary to preserve environmental health.
Another Look at Recycling
We briefly mentioned it before, but are you aware that your recycling habits can generate a return for your dental office? We are talking about dental scrap recycling, which depending on the size of the dental clinic can generate between $1,000 and $10,000 a year just by sending this material to the best dental scrap refiners. Dental scrap contains precious metals that can be recovered when you send them to the right refiner.
At Core Scientific, we use the latest technology to refine and assay dental scrap, allowing us to recover the most precious metals and perform the most accurate analysis, thus paying you in consequence. We provide our customers with a return 2 to 5 times higher than the rest of dental refiners because we are absolutely committed to our 100% transparency policy, and we provide an analytic report of all materials found. You can even request an environmental impact report with your first settlement.