You might have recently heard about eco-dentistry, a movement within the dentistry sector that aims to reduce the overall environmental impact of dental practices while supporting and maintaining patient wellness. Various dentists and dental organisations around the world, including general dentists, oral surgeons and other specialty dental practitioners are joining the eco-dentistry movement by engaging in more environmentally-friendly practices and patient treatment practices.
The Eco-Dentistry Association has identified the four processes within the dental industry that are responsible for producing the most dental practice waste:
- Conventional vacuum systems
- Conventional X-ray systems
- Infection control methods such as toxic disinfectants and sterilisation items
- The placement and removal of dental materials that contain mercury
Newer, more high-tech developments and practices have been made in order to modify the processes mentioned above, and in addition to reducing the amount of waste generated, eco-dentistry also saves dental practices money and creates a healthier environment for patients.
Eco-dentistry is also focused on reducing waste in other areas of the dental field, such as water usage, energy usage, amounts of radiation and paper usage. As with most offices, a large amount of paper waste is generated each day by printing out patient records, keeping paper appointment books, creating or disposing of patient files and other assorted paperwork. Many dental practices are making the transition to entirely digital, even e-mailing customers their receipts instead of printing out a paper receipt.
A focus on patient wellness is an important component of eco-dentistry. Many dental practices currently use materials like amalgam, which can be harmful to unborn babies, and mercury, which can be converted into a toxic substance once released into sewage systems through wastewater. There is a big push within the eco-dentistry industry for dentists to reduce the amount of mercury released into the water supply. Another patient wellness practice is to reduce the amount of radiation that patients are exposed to when getting dental x-rays. Digital radiation techniques, as opposed to conventional radiation techniques, are able to reduce the amount of radiation a patient is exposed to by up to 90%.
Environmentally-friendly practices are a priority for many industries, and the eco-dentistry movement is attempting to transform the way dental practices operate around the world. You can follow the latest eco-dentistry news and developments on Twitter, and keep up with the Eco-Dentistry Association on Facebook.