With the ever-increasing focus around the world on green issues, dentistry has had to take stock, not just as an industry, but at a dental practice level, of how much each dentist does or does not contribute to the harm which is inflicted upon the environment. While dentistry might not be considered a ‘heavy industry’, it certainly does not qualify as a profession whose green credentials have always been up to the mark.
Yokine Dentists www.clearchoicedental.com.au tells us there are a number of processes, procedures, and ways of working within the dental field have been pinpointed as especially harmful to the environment. These include the amount of water used and wasted during appointments, the amount of mercury that is discarded within amalgam, and the harmful chemicals present in traditional x-ray photography and development.
Thankfully, as an industry, dentists have realised that they have a huge part to play in reducing the number of processes and procedures that cause harm to the environment and as such new treatments, apparatus, and processes are being introduced. The move to switch dentistry’s carbon footprint will not happen overnight, but as each dental practice amends its day-to-day procedures, the positive impact will be cumulative.
One point which might not immediately spring to mind with regards to how a dentist can improve their green credentials is that it is not just about what they do personally. They can also educate their patients how they can help. Oral health and hygiene is not something that only takes place within the confines of the dental practice, and much of what patients do at home has implications for the environment.
There are a number of ways dental patients can help reduce waste and pollution, and whilst they may seem especially revolutionary, they are at least simple steps which anyone can take. Here are three of them:
Most toothbrushes are made from man-made products including plastics, and as such rather than simply throwing them away so that they end up in landfill sites, they should be added to the recycling bin, so at least the plastic can be recycled in some way.
Taking a patient’s toothbrush a stage further towards being green, encouraging them to switch to a bamboo toothbrush should be a dentist’s next goal. Bamboo toothbrushes are made from sustainable sources, and if you were concerned that bamboo might be diminishing, do not worry as it is the fastest growing plant life on the entire planet.
The dental floss that is normally sold in stores is made from synthetic or petroleum based products, and they have high toxic levels, albeit not for the person using it, but when it is disposed of, and ends up buried in landfill as waste.
Thankfully, there is an alternative, which you will not be surprised to learn is called natural dental floss. These are made from plant based materials, such as our old friend bamboo, or silks.
A simple question of 100 dental patients about whether they leave the tap running as they brush their teeth would likely produce a ‘Yes’ percentage of around 70 or 80%. Just think of how much water 80 people running their tap for two minutes, at least twice a day, amounts to. Encouraging patients to turn off the tap whilst brushing will save literally thousands of gallons of water every week.