Shen Chao is part of Dr. Joshua Hong’s Smile Clinic. While working for the Smile Clinic, he’s gained first hand experiences into the questions and concerns that dental patients have. He has been writing to inform people about various dental topics to help his readers improve their oral health. When he’s not working, you can find him on a hiking trail with his dog or having a Sunday cook-out with friends.

Lower Your Carbon Footprint with these 6 Tips for a Greener Dental Office

Getting Started

Shen Chao

Did you know that you can go green with your dental practice? Green dentistry is a high-tech approach towards dentistry that reduces your environmental impact and follows a dental model that works well for patients, according to the EcoDentistry Association (EDA). This approach to dentistry implements sustainable practices by keeping your resource consumption in line with nature’s economy by consciously reducing or eliminating waste.

Going Green in Your Dentistry is Good Practice for Our Planet

Going green in your dentistry reduces your waste and pollution, which is quite shocking when you find out how much waste your dental practice generates. Technological advancement will improve your dental practice and be better for both your patients and the environment.

Going green supports the growing community of consumers who seek dental professionals who share their values of eco-friendly practices and ideals.

6 Tips to Achieve a Green Dental Practice and Office 1. Go Digital and Save Paper

Eliminate the use of paper and upgrade your practice to a paperless digital world. If your office is already operating in a paperless manner, then you can upgrade it to the cloud. Using a cloud-based practice is very convenient, as you can easily communicate with your staffand patients from anywhere.

Using cloud-based dental practice management software will help you create and look up patient charts, set up appointments and send automatic reminders to your patients via their smart devices. A recent Microsoft study shows that cloud computing can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 90 percent.

Making your office paperless also means your patients will be able to fill out their forms online, implement electronic billing and use digital x-rays that expose your patients and staffto less radiation.

2. Apply an Environmentally Friendly Sterilization Program

Applying an eco-friendly sterilization program is a lot more efficient than the traditional sterilization process as it uses non-toxic infection control and steam sterilization. Chemicals that are traditionally used to sterilize and control infection can be harmful to your patient’s health and the environment.

Using single use disposable autoclave wraps, disposable patient bibs and single sterilization items adds up to a lot of the waste produced by your office. Y ou c an eliminate the waste you generate by using re-usable wraps, pouches and cloth made patient bibs. You can also further separate your waste into plastic, paper and cloth categories to recycle more easily.

3. Invest in an Amalgam Separator and Avoid Mercury

Disposing of waste generated by dental amalgams is tricky, as the mercury enters and contaminates water bodies with a poisonous substance. A solution to this is to buy an amalgam separator designed to filter out the dangerous waste particles from your clinic’s wastewater system.

4. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Implement Waste Control Programs

You can begin recycling from the bottom up with printed paper and food, stop using disposable cups and plates and replace them with reusable drinking and eating vessels. You can also use biodegradable cleaning products. At a later stage, you can start to recycle the paper and plastic separately from the rest of the autoclave bags. You can recycle whatever you want, as long as your local recycling program is ready to accept it.

5. Use Cotton Towels

Opting to use reusable cotton towels instead of the disposable paper towels is a positive step. Cloth sterilization wraps, pouches and reusable cloth bibs are becoming a popular option in a lot of dental offices. Despite the many benefits of using cloth towels, they should be used with care, as they can hold microbes.

6. Conserve Energy, Light and Water

Having energy efficient windows and skylights installed will allow more natural light to enter your clinic and save on your heating and cooling costs.

Save energy by turning offthe lights and other machinery when not in use. Use fluorescent or LED light bulbs rather than incandescent light bulbs and install occupancy sensors for your lights as they can last up to 7-11 times longer. Train your staffand patients to turn offthe tap when they’re brushing, as this can save up to eight gallons of water daily. You can hang up reminder signs in your office for this. Switch from using single use batteries to rechargeable batteries that can be recharged more than a 100 times. Replacing old batteries is hazardous, considering they contain mercury, amongst other materials. I hope these six tips about green dentistry were useful to you and that you consider implementing them to your dental practice.