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Environmental Footprint of Dentistry
Lately, dentists have been gaining consciousness about the potential environmental footprint of dentistry due to the high consumption of energy and other resources of this activity. Some consider that oral health professionals should have a serious obligation and social concern to convert dental practice into an environmentally sustainable model, but what does that mean for your practice?
The term “environmental footprint” is used by the corporate community and scientific researchers. It is a multi-criteria standard to measure the effect of a certain organization, service, or product in the environment. Daily practice and processes in dentistry require several types of electronic equipment, large amounts of water, and tons of disposable leftovers and post-clinical items. Dental offices have a significant contribution to the environmental problems with their waste.
According to the statistics, dental practices dispose of more than 680 million chair barriers, patient bibs, light handle protections, and 1.7 million sterilization pouches each year. Other discarded items include suction tips, masks, gloves, needles, saliva ejectors, and paper. This waste does not easily decay because of plastic components. Moreover, dental clinics produce 4.8 million lead foils, release more than 7 million gallons of toxic X-ray fixers, and 3700 pounds of mercury waste each year. In addition, conservative vacuum methods use more than 360 gallons of water per day.
How to cut down the environmental impact of dental practices
There are several ways to lessen the negative environmental impact of common products and resources that are used by dentists. Environmental dentists promote practices that run according to the four R model: reuse, reduce, rethink, and recycle. The four Rs highlight sustainable and balanced consumption of resources to minimize waste.
- The reuse part of the four R model focuses on the use of resources again and again after their renewal. Reusable instruments effectively cut the need to manufacture new products, generating less plastic and saving production energy.
- Reduce means to cut down the landfill and toxic waste. One of the major sources of dental waste involves plastic and disposable products. The utilization of decomposable items can balance the environmental footprint and keep it on the green line. Ultimately, it reduces energy consumption.
- Rethink suggests considering innovative ways to minimize your impact on the environment. For example, you can use aluminum foil as barriers instead of plastic. Aluminum foil is 100% recyclable and recycling saves about 95% of the energy that would be needed to make new aluminum.
- The recycling component aims to diminish the amount of trash that ends up contaminating the earth. Most of the waste sent to landfills can be reused through recycling. General practices include paper and plastic recycling, but the most important recyclable commodity that dental practices have is dental scrap. Dental scrap contains precious metals, and recycling it can generate an income for dental practices when they send them to a top refiner like Core Scientific.
But to reduce the environmental footprint of dentistry, the single most important factor is prevention. Low sugar diets and good oral hygiene habits can decrease the effect of dentistry at the root of the problem.
We have seen that at a professional practice level, there are many ways through which dental teams can deliver care and sustainability. Green dental approaches are vital if practitioners want to flourish in an environmentally conscious era. And why not help to minimize dentistry’s environmental footprint while also generating a profit?
Core Scientific is a specialized dental scrap refinery and the leader of the industry in the US. Our dental clients double or triple their returns compared to their previous providers when they start working with us. We are able to provide this superior service because we use the latest refining and assay technologies that allow us to extract more precious metals from dental scrap, and because we strictly adhere to our 100% transparency policy. We are also an INC 5,000 company, one of the fastest-growing companies in the country, thanks to these practices and the trust of our customers.