Environmentalism continues to grow, and many dental offices are looking for ways they can go green. However, many dental professionals don’t realize that some of the high-tech advances in dentistry come with many benefits for the environment too.
What is green dentistry? Green dentistry works to reduce the environmental impact of patient care and dental processes. According to the International Academy of Biological Dentistry & Medicine, green dentistry involves: saving energy, money, and water; incorporating high-tech innovations; focusing on early detection, less invasive treatments, and prevention; and reducing pollution and waste.
Many of the cutting-edge, technological advances in dentistry offer one or more benefits to the environment. Here’s a look at some of the latest high-tech advances in dentistry that can help your dental office go green.
Digital imaging has eliminated the need to use radiographic dental film. This eliminates the toxic lead foils and x-ray fixer solutions. Not only does digital imaging help the environment, it also helps patients. Patients are exposed to less radiation and images are instantly available. Digital imaging also offers improved image quality, which results in better diagnostic efficacy.
Another high-tech advance that proves beneficial for the environment is intraoral cameras. Intraoral cameras do not create waste, which is important for the environment. Using intraoral cameras in the office can also improve patient education, aid in the assessment of a patient’s oral health and improve in-office record keeping.
CAD, CAM and Digital Impression Systems
Digital impression systems and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM)/computer-aided design have transformed dentistry. In many cases, the need for impression materials, including polyvinylsiloxane and alginate, has been eliminated or reduced. The reduction in the use of impression materials helps dental offices and laboratories reduce their impact on the environment. Since certain lab services can be offered on-site with the use of this technology, patients may not need to return to the practice multiple time, reducing transportation related greenhouse gas emissions.
Electronic Health Records
Many dental offices have already completely turned to electronic health records, which offer many environmental benefits. Using electronic health records in a dental office helps to decrease paper waste significantly. Electronic health records offer many other benefits as well, including improved accuracy, reduced need for manual updates, no need for storage for records and savings in money and time.
Laser technology is now being used in dental offices for hard-tissue and soft-tissue procedures, as well as to diagnose oral disease. This technology offers benefits to the environment since it creates very little waste and is non-polluting. Patients often prefer the use of laser technology, since this technology often makes dental procedures faster, more comfortable, and more effective.
Steam and Forced-Air Dry Heat Sterilization Techniques
Using steam and forced-air dry heat sterilization techniques also offers a green option for dental offices. These techniques help to reduce or eliminate hazardous waste and toxic chemical vapors. When offices use these sterilization techniques, they are often able to use reusable surgical cloth wraps and sterilization cassettes, which are eco-friendly options as well. Not only do these techniques eliminate the need to use toxic chemicals, they may also reduce the time needed to sterilize instruments.
Along with using high-tech advances in dentistry to go green, dental practices can also make use of other techniques to reduce their impact on the environment. Simple steps practices can adopt include turning off equipment, choosing green lighting options in the office and starting an in-office recycling program.