Green Dentistry: What Does Green Mean?

Huber, Eryn, Crystal Pop, and Maggie Mattheweson

PURPOSE

To compare a traditional dental office with an eco friendly (green) dental office, focusing on excessive waste and disinfectants.

SUMMARY

What does green mean? Greening has been described as behaviors or activities that improve environmental outcomes. Healthcare problems with the environment are: toxic chemicals (disinfectants), pharmacological substances, and excessive waste. Disposable supplies in health care settings have been used to decrease the spread of blood borne disease, and therefore there has been an increase in waste. Green dental practices may reduce this waste and its negative effects on the environment without altering patient care. Toxic chemicals (disinfectants) need to be more environmentally friendly. Currently there is only one eco friendly disinfectant that can be used in the dental office. In an eco- friendly dental office employees can reduce excessive waste by recycling materials, reusing material and using green products. Examples of eco friendly dentistry may include: using toothbrushes recycled from yogurt cups, using cloth bibs, placing recycling receptacles in your office for paper and plastic, and using digital radiographs instead of film. However, along with the benefits come significant challenges. One major challenge in reducing waste is cost verses benefit, for example, metal tips or disposable plastic tips where metal tips are more expensive and require more time to maintain. Other challenges include, finding a disinfectant that is considered an intermediate level and not harmful to the environment, health care worker behavior change, and improved environmental education, as well as time it takes to implement the changes.

CONCLUSION

A green dental office is healthier/better for the environment and also provides the same quality patient care as a non-green dental office. In order to implement a green office and have a successful environmental program one must have employees willing to be trained, make behavior changes and start with small changes will grow towards their goal of a green dental office.