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Published on October 16th, 2015 | by Guest Contributor

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Mark Walker, Dentist, Breaks Down What Green Dentistry Means

As our global conscious begins to change, more and more people are seeking out eco friendly, sustainably sourced goods and services. ‘Green business practices’ has become the latest buzzword and refers to businesses that incorporate eco friendly practices into their business model.

This growing shift is happening in all industries, from farming to healthcare – even dentistry is making inroads to becoming more eco friendly and environmentally conscious. According to Dentistry IQ, recent surveys state, “42 percent of the population would choose to buy from companies that are environmentally friendly, and an overwhelming 80 percent would prefer to work for an employer that cares about sustainable practices.”

green dentist

These are the sort of stats that show this shift is permanent and widespread.

The Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA) is dedicated to helping dentists integrate green technologies and practices. As an industry resource, the EDA provides patients with reputable dentists who incorporate eco friendly dental practices. The organization also provides dental practitioners with information on the latest dental innovations and lists of service providers and
eco-contractors.

When thinking about eco dentistry, many wonder what specifically this entails. A research paper from the summer of 2014 likens the fundamentals of green dentistry to the tenants of recycling. “Green dentistry is a whole earth approach to tooth care that reduces the environmental impact of dentistry and creates a caring environment for patients. It is based on the model of four R’s – Rethink, Reduce, Re-use and Recycle,” Varun Rastogi wrote in the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research.

Rethink

By making some strategic changes, a dental office can ‘go green’ with minimal effort and disruption. Going paperless can save hundreds of dollars on paper and is an easy transition to make. A cloud-based system can make a dental practice more efficient, dentists can create and look up patient charts, set appointments, and send automatic reminders to patients via their computers, tablets, and smartphones. All this and more is possible when you use cloud-based dental practice management software. The EDA says digital billing, charting, and X-rays can save dental practices as much as $8,769 per year.

Reduce

Investing in energy efficient office equipment can help reduce your carbon footprint and energy bill. Eco friendly lightbulbs, and buying office supplies in bulk can also cut office expenditures. Dentistry IQ recommends purchasing a steam sterilization unit to cut down on the use of chemicals.

Reuse

Obviously, for sanitation purposes you cannot reuse everything; but, cotton lab coats can be washed and reused instead of disposable smocks. For tools that are battery powered, rechargeable batteries are smart environmental choice.

Recycle

Recycling paper cups, inventory slips, and other paper products is an easy environmental transition. Recycling mercury from discarded fillings is also an easy way to protect the environment. Mercury can pollute water supplies and soil – ensuring we keep mercury out of landfills and discard of it properly is one of the greenest initiatives a dental practice can undertake.

Dr. Mark Walker, a practicing dentist in Dutton, Ontario, explained how the practice he works at recycles their mercury. “To cut down on mercury waste, we use an amalgam separator, a process which is now mandated by our governing board, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons (RCDS),” Dr. Walker said. “[This process] filters out any mercury that might have previously made its way into the sewage or water system.”

Dutton Dentistry, the clinic where Dr. Mark Walker practices, also uses digital software for X-rays to cut down on paper and film waste. “By using digital X-rays, we have eliminated chemical development of film,” dentist Mark Walker pointed out. “Those chemicals used to be dumped into sewage as well.”

The Ontario dentist recommends dentists sit down and look at their business model and see where it makes sense to implement new technologies, cut energy consumption and so on. “There isn’t one quick fix for everything, or the whole industry would have implemented it,” Dr. Walker added. “But, there are tools to help each dentist attain their business goals, while protecting the environment.”

Not only is the growing movement towards green sustainable business practices good for the environment it is good for the business’ bottom line. Making your office green is beneficial to you, your patients, and the earth. It saves you and your staff time on everyday tasks, and better serves your patients and their health.

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