August 21, 2018
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The Eco-Friendly Dental Office

Dr. Jeffrey Cranska
Dr. Jeffrey Cranska's picture
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February 6, 2018

Modern technology has given dentists more ways and means to practice dentistry while maintaining exceptional patient care. Most of these improvements are also better for the environment.

Q: What is Eco-Friendly Dentistry?

A: I take this question to mean, “What can dentists do to help the environment through reduction of waste and pollution?” The answer is: the same as everyone. There is a need to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Some signs of the green dental office

·         Recycling programs in the office

·         Computers in daily operations

·         Paperless digital charting and notes

·         Digital X-rays, no darkroom

·         Use of non-amalgam filling materials

·         Steam instead of chemical sterilization

Save paper, and make everything digital when possible. Reduce waste, and recycle paper, glass, aluminum and plastic. Dispose of used batteries, ink cartridges, old computers and fluorescent lamps properly. Use licensed carriers to dispose of biohazardous medical waste, surgical sharps and pharmaceuticals. Lower energy, adjust thermostats for outside weather. Turn off high-tech equipment and everything with an on/off switch (computers, lasers, office equipment) at night and on weekends. Save water.

Q: What lasers can be used in a dental office?

A: Pulsed soft and hard tissue dental lasers are used to replace scalpels and drills in treating gum disease, oral pathology, and cavities. Electrical semiconductor light emitting diode lasers (LEDS) are now replacing traditional lighting technologies.

Q: What do LED lights bring to the dental office?

A: LED dental lights produce more light and use about one-fifth of the power of halogen light bulbs. They do not produce radiant heat and will last up to 20 years.

Q: Where do you use LED technology?

A: Dentists are using LED lights as overhead lights, mini headlamps on magnifying lenses and for curing white fillings.

Q: Why is there no dark room in your office?

A: Many hazardous chemicals are in X-ray film, photographic developing and fixing solutions, and equipment cleaning solutions. These chemicals include silver, lead, chromium, hydroquinone and glutaraldehyde, which are all deemed hazardous and must not enter the sewer lines, dumped in landfills or incinerated. Films, lead foil packs, plastic packaging and developing fixer need to be recycled. Used developer, rinse water and cleaners still go down the drain. Since we don’t develop any film, there is no dark room.

Q: What are alternatives to X-ray film?

A: The use of computerized digital X-ray systems allow for dental radiographs to be taken and stored without the use of waste and any photographic chemicals. The images will store for more than 100 years, and the patient is exposed to as little as 10 percent of the conventional amount of radiation.

Dentists are not the major source of any pollution, including mercury. Changes are being made in the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, municipal waste incineration, battery, paint and other manufacturing to decrease the effect on the environment. Dentists also need to be proactive in reducing the environmental impact of practice. One dental office cannot save the planet. However, the collective efforts of all dentists using new dental technology will hopefully reduce environmental impact. Green dentistry is here.

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