Dentists have choices in the ways they utilize modern technology to practice dentistry and maintain exceptional patient care. Most new equipment and technology improvements are better for the environment. The Hi-Tech Office is the Greenest.
What is Eco-Friendly Dentistry? What can I do as a dentist do to help the environment through reduction of waste and pollution, to create a Greener Dental Office? Same as everyone, there is a need to reduce waste and pollution, reuse and recycle.
Some signs of the Green Dental Office:
1. Recycling programs in the office
2. Computers in daily office operations
3. Go digital, paperless digital charting and notes
4. Digital X-rays, no film, no darkroom
5. Don’t use amalgam, nickel or other metal filling materials
6. Steam instead of chemical sterilization
7. Energy-efficient lighting
8. Digital scanning for dental lab cases (crowns, veneers, implants, dentures, night guards, etc.)
Save paper, make everything you can digital. Reduce waste; recycle paper, glass, aluminum and plastic. Dispose of used batteries, ink cartridges, old computers and fluorescent lamps properly. Use licensed carriers to dispose of biohazardous medical waste, surgical sharps and pharmaceuticals. Lower energy, adjust thermostats for outside weather. Use drapes or blinds open for colder months, close in warmer months. Save energy; turn off high tech equipment, everything with an on/off switch (computers, lasers, office equipment) at night and weekends. Save water. Use of a Digital dental lab to bypass traditional impressions (save on material, trays, shipping).
What do LED lights bring to the Dental Office? Electrical semiconductor light emitting diode lasers (LEDS) are replacing traditional lighting in dentistry. LED dental lights used throughout the office produce more light, use about one-fifth of the power consumption of Halogen light bulbs, do not produce radiant heat and will last up to 20 years. It is also beneficial to utilize window natural light to illuminate the office.
Dentistry is using light emitting diode (LED) lights as overhead lights, operating over chair operating lights, mini headlamps on magnifying lenses and for curing white fillings.
There is no photographic dark room in my office. Many hazardous chemicals are in x-ray film and photographic developing and fixing solutions and equipment cleaning solutions. These include silver, lead, chromium, hydroquinone and glutaraldehyde, all are deemed hazardous and must not enter the sewer lines, dumped in landfills or incinerated. Films, lead foil packs, plastic packaging, developing fixer need to be recycled. Used developer, rinse water and cleaners still go down the drain. Since we don’t develop any film there is no dark room. The use of computerized digital x-ray systems allows for dental radiographs to be taken and stored without the use of any photographic chemicals. The images will store for over 100 years and the patient is exposed to as little as 10% of the conventional amount of radiation.
Dental offices are by far not the major source of any pollution, including mercury. Changes are being made in the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, municipal waste incineration, battery, paint and other manufacturing to decrease the effect on the environment. Dentistry also needs to be proactive in reducing the environmental impact caused by their practices. One dental office cannot save the planet. However, the collective efforts of all dentists using new dental technology will hopefully reduce environmental impact. Green Dentistry is here. Think green.