Dental science and technology are known for their life-changing innovations and tools for safeguarding oral health, so learning how to be innovative with decreasing their environmental footprint through eco-dentistry shouldn’t be a tall order. However, few dental offices are addressing the real negative impact they make on our environment due to the large amount of metallic waste generated by dental procedures and excessive water and electricity use. Green dentistry is an innovative way for dental practices to work on helping our environment by reducing waste, decreasing pollution and conserving energy by implementing the newest techniques and procedures. Niles Family Dentistry is an accredited EDA Certified practice meaning that Dr. Niles has implemented the goals/criteria established by the Green Dentistry Movement. Her green dentistry techniques and methods better your experience, better you and your environment.
What is Eco-Dentistry All About?
In our world today, we all have to come together to make a concerted effort for a healthier environment. Dental practices can contribute a large amount of metallic waste generated by various dental procedures along with excessive use of water and electricity. The Eco-Dentistry Association® (EDA) estimates 1.7 billion sterilization pouches and 680 million chair barriers, light handle covers, and patient bibs end up in landfill each year from US dental offices alone. That, is an enormous amount of waste from our dental industry. In an effort to eliminate this kind of waste from continuing, certain eco-dentistry/green dentistry standards have been established.
The Eco-Dentistry Association defines green dentistry as practice that:
- Reduces waste and pollution;
- Saves energy, water and money;
- Incorporates high-tech innovations;
- Is wellness based
Why Does Eco-Dentistry Matter?
Answering the question “why does eco-dentistry matter” can be approached by asking yourself a few related questions: Why reduce waste and pollution? Why save water and energy? Why take care of yourself and the planet you inhabit? We think that because our trash is hauled away that somehow it magically disappears, but it doesn’t. Landfills are reaching crisis levels. We have to start thinking more responsibly so we can live happy, healthy and long lives. We have to think about conserving our planet that we inhabit. Generations before us understood the concept of reduce and reuse, reuse, reuse. We need to think of how we can do the same. The Eco-Dentistry Association website is full of great ideas for how dental offices can reduce and reuse and how patients can help support the Green Dentistry Movement.
Tips from the Eco-Dentistry Association® (EDA)
The EDA recommends the following steps dental offices can take to reduce:
- Buy frequently used items (Prophy paste, gloves, masks, cotton squares) in bulk
- Have supply companies combine orders to save shipping boxes
- Program printers for double-sided printing
- Use digital technology for imaging, impressions, cancer screening, charting, marketing
- Integrate steam sterilization in place of chemicals
By designing your practice to work with re-usables, a standard, single-dentist practice can save as much as 4,680 paper and plastic autoclave bags each year. By deciding to use one-ply patient bibs instead of two-ply, a dental practice can divert as much as 40,800 pieces of paper and 20,400 pieces of plastic from landfill each year.
In addition to the tips the EDA offers for reducing, they offer the following suggestion for reusing:
- Switch to cloth sterilization bags & patient barriers
- Wear cloth lab coats instead of paper ones
- Use a reusable face shield
- Re-use lab & shipping boxes
- Switch to stainless steel impression trays, suction tips
- Provide glass or ceramic “rinse & swish” cups
- Use washable dishes & cutlery in the staff break room
What Can You Do to Support the Green Dentistry Movement?
The Eco-Dentistry Association® (EDA) also provides patients with ways they can help support the green dentistry movement. Aside from making sure that you are choosing a dentist who has decided to establish an eco-dentistry certified practice (like Dr. Niles has), you can also help other dentists to make the change by being proactive. To show our commitment to total body wellness and reducing our environmental footprint, it is important that we evaluate the products and services we use and decide how we can help them do things a better way or choose not to support them if they won’t. Some proactive steps you can take include:
- Choose to receive your dental services and care from a dentist dedicated to the Green Dentistry Movement and EDA standards.
- Write a letter to your dentist explaining how you value eco-friendly service providers
- Be informed and take the EDA questions (see below) to your dentist to find out how committed they are to a better you and a better environment:
- Are you a member of the Eco-Dentistry Association®? Is your practice EDA Certified
- Do you offer digital x-rays?
- Are you a paperless office or do you use paper billing and paper patient charting?
- Do you use disposable or reusable cloth patient bibs?
- Do you use disposable paper cups, paper lab coats, or plastic chair barriers?
- How do you dispose of mercury-containing silver fillings?
- Do you have an amalgam separator installed?
- Do you have a recycling program in your office?
- Do you use steam sterilization methods instead of chemical sterilization?
- Do you offer salivary diagnostics?
Call for an Appointment
Dr. Niles and her staff believe in the Green Dentistry Movement–for what it can do for our environment and for what it can do for our patients’ total body wellness needs and goals. Dr. Niles is a family dentist in Niwot, Colorado, with convenient access to the communities of Boulder, Longmont, Lafayette, and Louisville. Niles Family Dentistry offers state-of-the-art family dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Call for your appointment today at (720) 744-0001. We look forward to meeting you and your family!