When it comes to those industries that you think of being the most culpable for negative impacts on the environment you most likely would include the car industry, petrochemical plants, and power stations which burn fossil fuels. Whilst these may near the top, you might be surprised to learn that in this age of everyone seeking to enhance their green credentials, dentists have a huge role to play.
Now a dental practice might not seem the first place you would point the finger at for the harm that is done to the environment, however, there are many aspects of their activities that are most certainly not considered to be green. In fact, several practices and procedures, such as braces, which occur within dental clinics are extremely harmful to the environment.
If you are a dentist or run a dental practice this may or may not be news to you, but either way, we would hope that you are nevertheless keen to improve your green credentials. That being the case here are some positive ways your dental practice can operate in a more environmentally manner.
Reduce Patient Visits
Whenever a patient visits, they will have already contributed to greenhouse gases when they travelled to your office. So, to reduce this pollution you could look at changing your appointment system to accommodate, longer, but less frequent visits, whereby you combine treatments and consultations whenever possible.
Have A Paperless Dental Practice
Most business sectors and industries are making the move towards paperless operation, and if you try to do the same you will have a greener dental practice. Think of all the print outs and copies which your practice generates and look for where these can be digital documents instead.
Recycle As Much As You Can
Recycling has long been one of the top ways to help the environment and it remains so today. The most obvious is recycling paper and plastics, and you should provide recycle bins for these. Also, within a dental practice, change from dental instruments and items like patient bibs that are used just once to those that can be recycled.
Switch To Digital X-Rays
If you still use a traditional x-ray system, it is time to switch to a digital system. These do not require film, paper, developer fixer, and lead waste, and they also reduce radiation exposure by up to 90%.
Install Waterless Vacuum System
It might shock you to learn that as much as 360 gallons of water are used every day by some dental practices that operate water-based vacuum systems. Even if you are not using as much water as that, you should still reduce your water usage to zero by switching to a dry vacuum system.
Use an Amalgam Separator
There are estimates that suggest that the amount of mercury wastage entering the water system generated by dentists is as much as 70% of the total. Even if it was only half that, it is still too much given how harmful mercury can be to humans, plants, and animals. By installing an amalgam separator, you can reduce the amount of harmful amalgam waste, including mercury, entering the water system by as much as 95%.
Implement Eco-Friendly Sterilisation
As much as there are benefits to sterilisation and infection control, there is a downside too, and that is the amount of wastage that is created by many of these systems. One obvious example is the use of chemicals to sterilise items. A green alternative is to use dry sterilisation systems or those which use steam.