“Green dentistry” or “eco-friendly dentistry” has been defined as efforts by oral health professionals to reduce the environmental impact of dental practices. The newly evolving arm of green dentistry involves a dedication to sustainability. Green dental health practitioners must take general safety precautions like changing masks and gloves for every patient and careful hand-washing. However Green dentists are implementing eco-friendly practices wherever they can to minimize their environmental impact.
What Is Green Dentistry?
Green dentistry practices have a whole-earth approach intended to reduce the environmental impact of dentistry. The basic Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle model forms the foundation for green dentistry. It looks like this:
- Water conservation: Cleanliness is next to godliness, and dental tools need to be cleaned meticulously and mouths rinsed thoroughly. Easy actions, like turning off the tap while washing hands or giving a patient a small amount to drink instead of a full cup, help save water.
- Energy conservation: You want your green dentist to make good use of every modern technology that promises comfort, speed, and ease in the dentist’s chair. But simple practices, like implementing motion sensors and turning off lights when not in use, can reduce energy.
- Nontoxic products: Instead of using mercury-laced amalgam fillings, green dentists opt for composite fillings, which are both safer and more natural-looking. Zirconium dental implants are an alternative to titanium dental implants and far better tolerated, particularly for patients who have metal sensitivity.
- Waste reduction: Recycling is possible for so many areas of dentistry, from paper drinking cups to paper bibs to plastic wrappers to magazines in the waiting room. Cloth headrest covers that are washable, reusable cups, and reusable metal suction tips are all tools that can be disinfected and reused to minimize waste.
- Technology implementation: There is something to be said for paper copies of files and charts, but many green dentists are converting to paper-free environments that include digitizing billing, patient data, and appointment reminders.
Eco-Friendly Dentistry Products and Procedures
Patient-centric, minimally invasive, and earth-friendly, green dentistry practices have the right idea about keeping people healthy.
- Amalgam filling removal: There are hazardous toxins that some dental practices continue to use in their treatments – most notably, amalgam. These silver fillings contain traces of mercury which, over time, can leach into the body. Many green dentistry practices have invested in amalgam removal technology so they can extract patients’ silver fillings and properly dispose of the mercury without exposing patients to mercury vapor or particles and without negatively impacting the water supply or otherwise harming the environment in the process.
- Composite tooth fillings: Composite fillings are tooth-colored, which makes them a coveted dental restoration. They’re not perfect – they’re made of a ceramic and plastic resin compound – but they are mercury-free, making them a safer tooth repair than amalgam. Dental amalgam is a combo of mercury, silver, tin, and lead, which are heavy-metal contaminants to water systems.
- Zirconia dental implants: Zirconia is a super-hard dental biomaterial that looks completely natural, is hypoallergenic, and takes the place of titanium in dental implants for patients who do not want metal in their body. Non-metal dental implants are biocompatible for optimal integration between bone and implant and remove the risk of metal allergy or sensitivity. It is also possible to get zirconia dental crowns.
- Dry vacuum system: Dental vacuum systems, also known as saliva ejector systems, are critical to every dental practice, but some use a tremendous amount of water. The implementation of a dry vacuum system is healthy for patients and eliminates excess water waste.
Why Patients prefer Green Dentistry?
Patients are drawn to green dentistry practices because they also take a holistic approach to dental care. Eco-friendly dentists look at patients from a whole-body wellness standard, not just as a patient with a toothache or teeth cleaning. They want to understand the cause of an oral health problem, not just correct a toothache. Is the patient’s environment, eating habits, or exposure to certain chemicals or substances impacting their oral health?
Green dentistry is new and it’s evolving. No one has perfected the art of eco-friendly dentistry just yet. But plenty of oral health professionals are making the effort. And that’s a great thing.
-article published in Earth911.com