In a world that is reacting with greater positivity to Eco-friendly business processes, Dentists have an opportunity to support earth-friendly habits while increasing the profile of their practices. The scale of business and clinical operations in a dental practice leaves ample scope for “going green”.
With that in mind, here are just some of the items to check off your ‘going green’ list, helping make your practice ‘greener’ without compromising on patient or staff safety.
• Infection Control
For reasons of safety, both infection control and waste disposal methods are inevitable in any dental practice. Traditional methods of disposable, one-use items are energy intensive and increase your practice’s carbon footprint to a much larger extent than sterilizing where re-usable items can be safely used. Modern methods of steam sterilization makes use of pressurized steam to decontaminate and eliminate the risk of toxic disinfectants. The high, moist heat under pressure is also effective in eliminating all forms of microbial life, including endospores.
• Waste Disposal Systems
Medical waste can also be managed using recyclable or sustainable materials. Instead of using plastic bibs, try using cotton bibs. Request your supplier to provide more sustainable or Eco-friendly options. Supply is equal to demand. Ensure any disposable plastics that are not necessary like cups and bibs, are not used and find cotton or paper recyclable/sustainable products to replace them.
• Amalgam Separator
The silver filling had long been used as the material of choice for restoring teeth, but public concerns over amalgam safety, compounded with environmental issues concerning disposal of mercury from replacement of these fillings has made most dentists abandon the use of amalgam. This has led to a subsequent rise in amalgam-replacement procedures. Patient desire to have more cosmetically pleasing replacement options for their existing mercury-based fillings is another reason to have an amalgam separator in your office. An amalgam separator will extract minute pieces of amalgam from the clinic’s sewage, thereby reducing the load on local sewage treatment plants to deal with mercury. The material from the amalgam separator can then be independently managed by a 3rd party that deals specifically with mercury wastes.
• Digital Radiography
Traditional x-rays film uses a large amount of aluminum and plastic. This can be changed by installing a completely digital system for viewing x-ray scans. Digital system will not only reduce the harmful x-rays and chemicals involved in developing the scan, but will also provide enhanced image quality.
Then, of course, there are some general tips that everyone can follow to make their office more Eco-friendly. They are:
- Use of energy-efficient and long lasting LED bulbs instead of the traditional incandescent bulbs
- Heat reflective windows to reduce the use of air conditioners
- Use of ultra-low volatile organic compound (non-VOC) paints
- Use liquid crystal display (LCD) instead of cathode ray tube (CRT) computer monitors
- Use an Energy Star washer and dryer, where applicable.
- Remove dependence from paperwork, encourage in-office communication through e-mails and print only when necessary.