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Sustainable Dental Practices: Eco-friendly products and practices in dentistry

The dental industry leaves a large ecological footprint. Dental equipment consumes a great deal of energy and many dental products like gloves, and masks, are disposable. Materials used in traditional dental treatments can harm the environment, especially if not disposed of properly. Collectively, these can hurt the planet.

Fortunately, the growing awareness about saving the environment has not left the dental industry untouched. An increasing number of dental professionals are now adopting reusable and biodegradable products and materials as well as waste-reducing practices. These efforts can reduce waste, optimize energy consumption, and make dentistry more sustainable. At the same time, green dental practices can improve the efficiency of dental treatments.

Waste Reduction Strategies

Eco-friendly dental practices involve the reduction of non-biodegradable waste. Dental professionals can employ the following strategies to make their practices more sustainable:

  • Disposable to reusable - Rather than using disposable products, such as single-use masks, use ones that can be reused after sterilization. Use biodegradable products if reusable options are not available.
    • Use cloth sterilization bags, patient barriers and lab coats in place of disposable ones
    • Use stainless steel suction tips, and impression trays
    • Provide glass or ceramic cups to patients
  • Embrace technology - Dentists can stop using physical X-ray films and use digital imaging for imaging, and screening.
  • Reduce paper usage - Replace paperwork with electronic patient records. Use both sides of paper to print, wherever needed.

Eco-Friendly Materials

Biocompatible materials for restorations

Green or sustainable dental practices are not limited to the use of green dental products. Dental clinics can make more environment-friendly choices in other areas too. For example, you can use eco-friendly materials for dental restoration and other treatments.

  • Composite resin: It is made from a combination of resin-based matrix and an inorganic filler material. Replace traditional amalgam filling with composite resin. Other than being sustainable, composite resin has several other advantages. It is aesthetically more appealing, less vulnerable to wear, and translucent.
  • Glass ionomer: This is a biocompatible material used for dental restorations. It has a lower environmental impact than conventional sealant materials.

Eco-friendly packaging for dental products

 Excessive packaging is used to pack and ship dental products. This adds to the growing plastic waste on the planet. Dentists can use products that use less, and biodegradable packaging. In addition, ordering large quantities can reduce the need for more shipping boxes, cutting down on packaging waste.

Energy Efficiency

If a dental professional wants to practice sustainable dentistry, they can reduce their environmental footprint by following these energy-saving practices:

  • Energy-efficient equipment: Like any other office, invest in LED lights to save energy. Use sterilizers, and other dental equipment that is energy-efficient or consumes less energy. Replace older, outdated, high-energy-consuming devices with newer, more energy-efficient options.
  • Proper maintenance: Adequate, timely maintenance of your dental equipment can also contribute to energy efficiency and improve the devices’ lifespan.

Non-Toxic Cleaning and Disinfection

Traditional cleaning materials and disinfectants usually contain chemicals that are harmful to humans and the environment. Eco-friendly, non-toxic dental products can solve this problem.

  • Green cleaning products: Use cleaners that contain natural, safe, biodegradable ingredients.
  • Sterilization: Replace chemical sterilization with steam sterilization, wherever possible.
  • Non-toxic disinfectants: Use environmentally friendly disinfectants that are more effective.
  • Proper disposal: Dispose any hazardous material responsibly, and as specified by the manufacturer.

Embracing a Greener Future

Sustainable dental practices help the environment as well as improve patient satisfaction and wellness. Eco-friendly dental products and practices allow dental professionals to contribute to a greener planet while raising the quality of dental treatments and care.

Resources

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/dental-composite-resin
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10772417/
  3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/368420982_Sustainable_Dentistry_Making_a_Difference
  4. https://ecodentistry.org/green-dentistry/what-is-green-dentistry/reduce-waste/
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