Eco Dentistry: The Future Of Sustainable Care For Your Mouth

From: Stuart Higbee
December 19th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Do you run a dental practice? If so, your business may directly benefit from incorporating green practices into how you run your business.

What Is Green Dentistry?

A trend in dentistry that’s becoming more popular every year, the principles behind green dentistry are the same as the ones that guide other business practices, too.
The Eco Dentistry Association (EDA) defines Green Dentistry as the following:

Green dentistry is a high-tech approach that reduces the environmental impact of dental practices and encompasses a service model for dentistry that supports and maintains wellness.
Green dentistry meets the needs of millions of wellness lifestyle patients, and helps dental professionals protect planetary and community health, as well as the financial health of their practices.
Together, green dental practices, green dental patients and companies offering green dental products are transforming the dental industry through adoption of the EDA’s green dentistry model.

As the EDA explains it, there are four main benefits to making the switch to Green Dentistry.

It Promotes Wellness

Like properly maintaining a car, it’s easier and cheaper to maintain good oral health than it is to perform major oral surgery. The kinds of patients who seek green dentistry practices value preventative health care, making sure they don’t miss important dental checkups or regular cleanings. Not only does this benefit the patient, who has fewer oral health problems, targeting this kind of patient also helps green dentists because their patients are loyal.
In fact, this patient loyalty pays off in more ways than just reliable returns. Patients who value the growing wellness movement are likely to share their positive experiences at eco-friendly dentist offices with tieh friends, family, coworkers and more.

It Reduces Waste And Pollution

According to the EDA, there are four main sources of dental office waste:

  1. Sterilization and disinfectant products.
  2. Removal of mercury-containing dental materials.
  3. Conventional x-ray systems.
  4. Conventional vacuum systems.

Choosing green solutions for each of these waste sources significantly reduces the negative environmental impact of dentistry. Mercury levels can wreak havoc on the environment, so reducing the amount of mercury used and how it is disposed of reduces these negative effects.
Making the decision to use biodegradable disinfectant products (such as gloves, tongue depressors, and cotton swabs) also ensures the waste produced from dentistry can either be recycled or completely broken down in a landfill.

It Saves Time, Energy, and Money

What’s the most valuable tool dentists use? Is it a pick? Or a drill?
It’s water – the most valuable resource on earth. Depending on the types of dental tools used, hundreds or thousands of gallons can be wasted each year. Investing in tools such as a dry vacuum will prevent this waste.

The same goes for the power consumption the average dental office uses.

It’s High Tech

While being high-tech isn’t in and of itself a reason to change how you practice medicine, the current tech trends in dentistry are preparing for more sustainable practices in the future.

Green Dentistry Practices Sound Great, But Can I Afford Them?

One of the biggest hurdles medical and dental professionals face when making their practices more sustainable is cost. It’s already very expensive for patients to pay out-of-pocket expenses for dental procedures (even necessities like affordable dentures aren’t always covered). The common perception is going green costs even more.

Insurance is another issue. Insurance providers have a reputation for being unwilling to pay for all but the most common procedures – when cosmetic procedures aren’t covered by most insurance plans, will green dentistry costs be covered?

Since most of the green dentistry procedures simply change how much waste is produced (and how it’s handled), it’s easy to transition to eco-friendly practices while staying compliant with insurance requirements.Though you’ll need to check with your contracted insurance providers, most changes will be small, such as purchasing eco-friendly supplies.

If you need more guidance on how to shift your practice to being more eco-friendly, check out the Eco Dentistry Association website. There, you’ll find more links, articles, and contacts to help you successfully transition to green dentistry.