Ahh, the dentist’s office: Free toothbrushes, the taste of mint, some guy or girl leaning over you with their hands in your mouth while they wear these fancy glasses with lights on them, and the realization that you don’t know anything about incisors, bicuspids, or lower mandibles. Kind of a mixed bag, isn’t it? Whether you’re for your dentist or not, they're are on the move - eco styles.
The Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA) was co-founded in 2008 by Ina and Fred Pockrass. Based out of California, the EDA aims to provide greener solutions to support the dental industry and its patients. Its efforts are mainly focused in three different areas: patients, practitioners, and industry. Ultimately, they are looking for the practice of good eco-friendly dentistry, which can be defined by reducing waste and pollution, saving water and energy, using green technology, and supporting a wellness lifestyle.
According to the EDA, dentists can reduce their waste output around the office through bulk buying and combining orders to cut down on packaging and shipping materials. Additionally, they can look to use digital alternatives for dental imaging, impressions, and charting. There are also eco-friendly alternatives to chemical sterilization such as less harmful steam sterilization. Finally, dental offices can look to do simple things such as double sided printing to cut down on the more administrative/paper waste that they can produce.
There are also many solutions that the EDA has to increase the “re-usability” of products around the dental office. For instance, you know the paper and plastic bags that dental instruments are always sterilized in? They can be switched to re-usable cloth bags. As can things like plastic chair, head rests, and tray covers. Don’t forget about re-usable face shields and patient bibs too! Oh and we can’t leave out those little cups that you get your water or mouthwash rinse in. They can be switched to re-usable glass or ceramic alternatives. As you can see, the more you look around the dental office, the more you can come up with green solutions.
The EDA has many other great initiatives in addition to its sustainable alternatives for the dental office. It has a GreenDOC Dental Office Certification Program which has bronze, silver, and gold certification levels for participating dentists. The EDA also received a lot of media attention this spring for their “Save 90 A Day” campaign. The campaign aimed to save the approximately 90 glasses of water a person wastes a day while leaving their tap running as they brush their teeth. It instructed those who pledged to simply wet their toothbrush, turn off the tap, apply toothpaste, brush their teeth, fill a small glass with water and then rinse and swish with water from the glass.
Overall, the EDA is another great example of professionals in their respective industry making simple changes to reduce their impact on the environment. Additionally, by banding together, they have created a useful network for information transfer and awareness about their cause. So while green dentistry practices might not take away the pain that is a dental visit for some people, at least it will cut down on the environmental pain you feel at a dental office as you drink from a disposable cup with the water still running.
For more information on Green Dentistry and the EDA, check out the EDA website at http://www.ecodentistry.org/.