It’s time to be truthful about green dentistryFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 2nd April 2020
In the last few years we’ve seen a push to go “green” and be as “eco-friendly” as possible in our practices. But, for an industry where going green is so much more difficult than simply popping bits in the recycling bin, can we truly make a difference?
I was pondering the issue recently and came across a fantastic article that outlined the green issue and what professionals can do. In this refreshingly honest piece, the truth that we all know was clearly outlined – the green movement in dentistry isn’t easy.[i]
We’ve all read those articles which state that it’s as simple as switching from plastic instruments and looking at re-usable masks and such, and while those are good points, we have to remember that today’s healthcare isn’t so straightforward. We need to be incredibly careful about infection control, especially as society is becoming more litigious. Furthermore, there’s the financial side of things together – going green isn’t free, and this is something that we all need to bear in mind, especially as some initial changes will require considerable outgoings.
Regardless, going greener in dentistry is something we should all be looking to do. Following bush fires in Australia, record flooding and all manner of other indicators, it is becoming clear that the world around us is changing and that climate change is to blame. So, changes need to be made, but what can we actually do?
I think the key here, as it so often is, is to make changes responsibly. If we cannot guarantee patient safety when making a change, it simply isn’t viable. So, instead of going aggressively green, it’s worth looking to lessen environmental impact through other means. Many articles that explore going green suggest a focus on reducing the amount of water and electricity we use in our practices, and this is actually a good place to start. It doesn’t take much to cut down the amount of energy used in your practice – have you considered fitting a dry suction system? Perhaps you can fit a smart meter and track your electricity usage that way? Small actions have big results, and won’t impact the standard of care you provide either.
Another thing to potentially look at is phasing out of less environmentally friendly options. We’ve all heard the arguments against amalgam, and from an environmental point of view there’s no denying that this material is problematic. How about phasing out the use of amalgam in your practice and looking at only supplying composite restorations instead? Obviously, this will not be a viable choice for every practice, but it’s a good way to make a significant positive change.
In the end, green dentistry is a work in progress. Yes, we need to make a change, and it’s vital that we make effort to do so, but it’s also important that we don’t feel guilty for not being incredibly eco-friendly from the word go. As with all positive change these things take time, and until we can come up with completely viable, sustainable alternatives for many of the products we already use, the focus needs to be on reduction instead of complete revolution.
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[i] Earth 911. Is Green Dentistry Possible? Link: https://earth911.com/living-well-being/is-green-dentistry-possible/ [Last accessed December 19].