April 22nd is Earth Day, when individuals across the globe examine what more they can do to protect the environment. When people think of eco-friendly practices, they probably focus on recycling, biking to work instead of driving, and other personal choices that show they care about the planet. However, going “green” isn’t just about choices people make inside their own homes, but in every aspect of their lives.
For example, even dentists have begun to examine how they can be more environmentally conscious in their practices.
According to the Eco Dentistry Association (EDA), people would be surprised to learn how much waste and pollution is generated by a single dental procedure, but there are things that dentists can do to change this. Most people have heard of the three Rs: reduce, re-use and recycle, and this mantra can be applied to the dental industry as well.
Reduce: Dentists can reduce their waste in many simple ways:
- Request that medical supply companies combine their orders to reduce on shipping boxes.
- Set printers for double-sided printing.
- Implement digital technology for imaging, impressions, cancer screening, charting and marketing.
- Use steam to sterilize tools and eliminate the use of chemicals.
Re-use: Believe it or not, there are items in a dental practice that can be safely re-used:
- Switch to cloth sterilization bags and patient barriers.
- Provide glass or ceramic “rinse and swish” cups.
- Wear cloth lab coats instead of paper.
- Switch to stainless steel impression trays, suction tips.
Recycle: There are several recyclable items in a dentist’s office:
- Recycle copy paper, and use a medical shredding service that recycles the shredded paper.
- Participate in a program that will take old tools and turn them into industrial metal.
- Provide recycling bins throughout the office for staff and patients in the waiting room.
For course, it’s not just dentists who should keep the environment in mind. The Center for Natural Dentistry offers people some tips on how they can “go green” with their personal dental routine:
- Don’t leave the water running while brushing teeth.
- Look for toothpastes and mouthwashes that are all-natural.
- Buy a biodegradable toothbrush.
- Brushing hard isn’t just dangerous for the gums, but wears away at a toothbrush as well. Brushing easy will help a toothbrush last longer, which saves money and reduces waste.
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the comment below!