Green dentistry has become increasingly popular in recent years because of its environmentally-friendly aspect. It involves treating teeth using safe technologies and environmentally friendly materials.
The first advancement of green dentistry was the replacement of x-rays with digital devices. Current film-based x-rays have a negative effect on patients’ long-term health. Digital device replacements reduce radiation exposure by 90%, virtually negating the negative effects. Another important advantage is that digital images of the jaw are of higher quality. They make it easier to diagnose diseases, even at an early stage. A digital image can be made three-dimensional, enlarged without loss of quality and an implant can be tried in.
Conventional X-rays are not environmentally friendly. Digital equipment does not require printing on film, which takes years to decompose in the soil.
“Green” dentistry encourages the rejection of disposable plastic and paper consumables. Sterilization has reached a high standard, so reusable metal cups will soon be commonplace, making their way into dentists offices too. The substances used for disinfection can be safely disposed of in landfills as organic waste.
Other methods to reduce environmental impact:
- use of distilled water in the forest
- controlling what can and cannot be poured down the drain
Fillings and dentures do not contain metal, which is harmful to humans and nature.
Dental implants used in green dentistry are crafted from biodegradable materials. They are also good for humans, as they do not require long preparation for insertion and do not emit toxic substances. One dental clinic which made it to the headlines with its green dentistry practices is Periodonta, a dental clinic in Turkey. They resided to using only biodegradable implants for their operations, something which no dental clinic in Turkey had done at the time. If you wish to have dental implants in Turkey, you might give them a go.
Dental practices remain the largest source of mercury in local wastewater systems, according to many studies. One of the most important environmental steps green dentistry imposes is installing an amalgam separator, which costs less than $1,000 and takes up little space. They have become mandatory in 12 U.S. states, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may make them mandatory country-wide anytime now.
Many dentists think they don’t need amalgam separators because they don’t place amalgams, overlooking the fact that they probably do remove them on a daily basis. EDA has stated that the majority of amalgam waste is not produced by dentists who place it, but rather those who frequently remove it.
Panelists recommended the use of mercury-free alternative materials such as porcelain, composites, glass and gold for fillings because they are better for patient health and the environment.
Another way for dental practices to save money and help the environment is adopting high-tech processes.
For example, switching from traditional x-ray systems to digital imaging technology eliminates the use of toxic chemicals and lead sheets, and reduces patient radiation exposure by 90 percent. Saving up to $10,000 in operating costs per year, the switch to digital radiography can pay for itself in two years.
Another important step in implementing a paperless digital workflow can be the use of document management software for digital scheduling and maintenance of patient records.