At the State of Green Business Forum, Ina Pockrass, co-founder of the Eco-Dentistry Association, spoke about the ways they are working to change the dental industry.
Four main sustainability challenges face the dental industry:
- Conventional x-rays–not only are these unhealthy for the patient, but there are a lot of toxic materials used to develop their results. Higher tech options like digital imaging can fulfill this need with a much smaller environmental footprint, and are healthier for the patient.
- 680 million patient barriers tossed every year–according to Pockrass, many years ago, the industry said, “Let’s cover everything in plastic, including the dentist, for every patient interaction.”
- Suction machines use 360 gallons of water every day (wasting 9 B gallons of clean drinking water annually)
- Mercury waste (50% of ‘silver’ fillings are mercury)–EPA estimates 3.7 tons of mercury waste generated by the dental industry every year. 90,000 dental offices across the country don’t have a separator that captures heavy metals before they get flushed out into the waste stream.
So what is green dentistry, how can you help your dentist go green, and why will they love you for it?From the EcoDentistry Assocation, green dentistry has a number of tenets:
- Reduces waste and pollution,
- saves energy water and money,
- is high-tech, and
- supports wellness lifestyle. Oral hygiene and dental health are very intertwined with whole body health.
In addition, there are very tangible values for dentists:
- Attracts high end clients and separates your dental practice from the crowd
- Also lower supply costs, reduces marketing costs (traditional marketing is 6x per year mailing out mailers–this is quite different!), and can recession-proof the practice.
Pockrass and her husband, Dr. Fred Pockrass (Transcendentist.com) formed the Ecodentistry Association. Is your dentist a member? If not, they should be! Dentists listen to their patients. The Ecodentistry Association provides you, the patient, with materials, information, and approaches you can use to help your dentist go green.Take a look at their website next time you get a call from your dentist that you have an upcoming appointment.
Stay tuned for more news from the State of Green Business Forum. As always, you can follow TriplePundit on twitter for live feeds from the event.
Scott Cooney is the author of Build a Green Small Business (McGraw-Hill) and Principal of GreenBusinessOwner.com