The importance of sustainability in our world is growing increasingly more apparent and as global citizens, we all have a role and responsibility in preserving our planet’s resources for future generations. Dentistry is no exception.

Dentists are uniquely positioned to lead the way in environmental leadership due to the nature of their work and its potential for significant resource consumption. From reducing waste and energy use to choosing sustainable products and suppliers, dentists from advise that most dental practices can become more and more environmentally conscious in the following ways.

Going digital reduces the need for physical resources. This includes using electronic patient records, digital X-rays, online appointments, and electronic billing and communication.

Use LED lights and Energy Star-rated equipment to minimize energy use. Turn off unused equipment, and consider installing solar panels to offset energy consumption.

Use water-saving devices on faucets, autoclaves, and vacuum systems. Educate staff about the importance of water conservation.

The dental practice should choose dental materials and products that are considered environmentally friendly. This could mean sustainably sourced, biodegradable products produced using recycled materials.

Implement proper waste management systems. This could mean separating and recycling waste. It could also entail using biodegradable bags and properly disposing of hazardous waste materials.

The dental practice manager should consider buying bulk supplies to reduce packaging, choose suppliers prioritising sustainability, and invest in high-quality equipment that will last longer.

The cleaning teams should use environmentally friendly cleaning products to reduce chemical waste.

You could consider teaching patients about sustainable oral care practices. This could involve recommending eco-friendly dental hygiene products like bamboo toothbrushes or toothpaste tabs.

Encourage employees to use public transportation such as buses and trains, carpool, or cycle to work to reduce carbon emissions.

If you are designing and building a new dental practice, you can instruct your builder/designer to incorporate sustainable design features into the building. This could mean using recycled or sustainable materials, installing energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, or adding natural light to reduce electricity usage.

Encourage your staff to participate in community initiatives that support sustainability. This could involve a tree-planting day, sponsoring a local cleanup event, or volunteering at a recycling centre. If your staff wear uniforms, consider using sustainable, ethically sourced materials.

Try to reuse materials where possible and recycle any materials that are no longer needed; if you check with your local council, most have recycling programs put in place for just about anything, from plastic to electronics.

Consider using steam sterilization instead of chemical sterilants; most chemicals can harm the environment, and this could save your profit margin as it is much cheaper.

Remember, even small changes can make a big difference over time. Start with one or two strategies and slowly add more as they become feasible. Then watch as your profit goes up and your accountability towards the plant.