Transcendentist: Cleaning up Dentistry’s Dirty Secrets

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.”
  3. Suction machines use 360 gallons of water every day (wasting 9 B gallons of clean drinking water annually)
  4. 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:

  1. Reduces waste and pollution,
  2. saves energy water and money,
  3. is high-tech, and
  4. supports wellness lifestyle. Oral hygiene and dental health are very intertwined with whole body health.

In addition, there are very tangible values for dentists:

  1. Attracts high end clients and separates your dental practice from the crowd
  2. 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 ( 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

Scott Cooney, Principal of and author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill, November 2008), is also a serial ecopreneur who has started and grown several green businesses and consulted several other green startups. He co-founded the ReDirect Guide, a green business directory, in Salt Lake City, UT. He greened his home in Salt Lake City, including xeriscaping, an organic orchard, extra natural fiber insulation, a 1.8kW solar PV array, on-demand hot water, energy star appliances, and natural paints. He is a vegetarian, an avid cyclist, ultimate frisbee player, and surfer, and currently lives in the sunny Mission district of San Francisco. Scott is working on his second book, a look at microeconomics in the green sector.In June 2010, Scott launched, a sustainability consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions to common business problems by leveraging the power of the triple bottom line. Focused exclusively on small business, GBO's mission is to facilitate the creation and success of small, green businesses.

One response

  1. Instead of wasting water by purging 15-30 seconds between patients or treating the water with environmentally damaging chemicals – there is AquaSept.  The doctor actually sterilizes the delivery unit between each patient.  This ensures 0 CFU in the dental water, cuts down on waste, and can actually save money.  No more worries if MRSA, Hepetitis, or HIV are being transmitted from patient to patient.  No more fighting the biofilm that is growing deadly bacteria inside the dental unit water lines.  No more shock treatments, causing damage to existing equipment and still rendering the water a biohazard to patient and staff.  Check them out at You can retrofit your existing equipment or get a cart, I think they are available in wall or counter top mounts also.  I’ve heard the VA Hospitals, Military, even prison systems have been using AquaSept for years.  Who would have thought that a prisoner is getting safer dental care and greener dental care than the public?

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