How green is your practice? That’s something many potential clients will want to know. Save money, reduce your carbon footprint and show your patients that the environment is a priority for your clinic, with these simple steps towards eco-friendly dentistry.
Dealing with hazardous waste
Mercury is one of the top environmental issues for dental practices. Disposal of fillings containing this hazardous substance into the sewers introduces damaging toxins into the ecosystem, as well as leading to high mercury levels in the fish and shellfish we eat. Investing in a mercury-separating machine for your practice will enable you to isolate the mercury in amalgam fillings for reuse and dramatically reduce the amount of mercury entering the water system. You could also switch to mercury-free fillings.
Reduce radiation from X-rays
Eco-friendly dentistry must address the important issue of x-ray radiation, a significant factor in every practice’s environmental footprint. It goes without saying that installing adequate radiation shielding for your X-ray room is a must, to protect staff, patients and the wider environment from its harmful effects. Going one step further and introducing digital radiography can cut down exposure to radiation by 75%, as well as reducing paper use in your dental office.
Ditch the disposables
Infection control is often achieved in dental surgeries with the help of disposable bibs, cups and hand towels. With these sterile, single-use items, it’s easy to guard against infection, but the environmental cost is high – the amount of waste created is staggering. Eco-friendly dentistry takes a more frugal approach, using reusable cloth towels and stainless steel equipment to cut down on landfill and save the energy used in production of disposables.
It’s vital to keep your dental practice clean, hygienic and free of infection. For many clinics, that means using disinfectants that contain toxic chemicals which can affect the air quality (not to mention contributing to that unmistakeable ‘dental office smell’). These days, there’s a wide choice of non-toxic, biodegradable cleaning materials available. Eco-friendly cleaning products will help to improve air quality for your patients and eliminate the chance of toxic chemicals being flushed down the drain and into the ecosystem.
An often-quoted water-saving tip is to avoid leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth. Do your dental practitioners do the same? Encourage staff to turn off taps whenever they can, and you’ll see a big reduction in the amount of water used every month. Installing taps in the toilets that automatically cut off after a period of time is an easy way to save water.
One fundamental principle of eco-friendly dentistry is to be energy efficient, taking every opportunity to save energy through a combination of technology and best practice. Installing motion sensors and energy-efficient light bulbs is an easy way to cut down on the electricity used to light your surgery. A well-insulated building will save on heating costs – especially if you leave the door shut on a cold day!