With the world going greener by the day, the health care systems in place are getting with the times. While it may seem as though technologically advanced procedures, equipment and materials would disregard environmental consequences, there’s much more than meets the eye when it comes to making green medical practices a reality. Eco-friendly dentistry might be the wave of the future.
Green dentistry can be defined simply as dental practices that take the environment into account as much as possible. There is a lot dentists can do to be more Earth-friendly, all while keeping their patients’ health a top priority.
There are many ways to reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink in the world of dental procedures. From the materials used to how practices function, dentistry is embracing the Earth.
One of the best ways to make a dental practice greener is to adopt energy-efficient habits and equipment. Dimmers and timed lights, motion sensors, sensor-operated faucets, programmable thermostats and other eco-friendly features tend to have the biggest impact on dental and medical facilities. While there is some power used in dentistry itself, the overhead tends to eat up most of it. Luckily, it’s also the easiest to control.
Since some of the biggest game-changers in terms of power and electricity don’t affect patient care at all, it’s often easy for facilities to make the switch. Many places even choose to transition slowly toward more environmentally friendly options for their operation to ensure a smooth process.
Dental implants are a smaller detail, but even the little things can make a big difference. Implants are the surgical support systems used to keep fixtures like crowns, bridges or dentures in place. They can also act as an orthodontic anchor if need be. They can last for decades, so it’s important to ensure they’re healthy both for the patient and the planet.
Each practice will have their own methods and technologies, but finding an office that uses environmentally friendly implants could be worth it in the long run. They are obviously kinder to the planet, but they also tend to be safer and more comfortable on the human body. Zirconium is a great material to work with — as an alternative to standard titanium implants — and they’re becoming more popular.
While the overhead and the operation both play large roles in any dentistry practice going green, so do the materials themselves. Implants aren’t the only fixtures that can be environmentally friendly, either. In fact, everything from fillings to floss can be made more sustainably. Every practice has its preferences, but even going with one or two alternatives to standard materials can significantly impact the environment over time.
Composite fillings are a great alternative to mercury-laced amalgam fillings, and they tend to work much better for many patients, too. Looking into more sustainable options and giving patients a choice is always a great idea when it comes to creating a flexible and understanding dental practice. For smaller supplies like toothpaste and floss, buying in bulk and finding sustainable solutions can often be a great way to make changes — and most people won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Water conservation can actually be quite easy. By implementing practices like turning off the faucet between cleaning dental tools, filling smaller cups of water and turning off the tap when washing hands, facilities can cut their water waste down significantly.
These small changes don’t have too much to do with the procedures themselves, and they can help facilities in the long run by reducing water bills.
One of the benefits of dentistry when it comes to waste reduction is that so many small details are recyclable. Paper cups, bibs, headrest covers and plastic wrappers are just a few of the many recyclable products used in dental offices every day. Dentists can even recycle batteries, toner cartridges and other items. Even X-rays lend room for recycling through the lead foil, fixer and developer solution.
When making an effort to recycle more, keeping the big five in mind can make things much easier. By recycling aluminum, glass, plastic, paper and steel, any practice can ensure it’s covering all the bases. While each place will rely on the recycling options available in their area, being aware of what is and isn’t recyclable can be a great start.
Dental Practices Are Going Greener
There are so many ways to practice green dentistry. From recycling to using sustainable materials, there are so many opportunities to make a dental practice more Earth-friendly. While no office can be entirely perfect, making an effort and doing a little more each day is what truly counts.