Why-Sustainable-Dentistry-Matters-in-Fighting-Climate-Change Zerolla

Why Sustainable Dentistry Matters in Fighting Climate Change

Climate change is an urgent issue, and every sector must contribute to mitigating its impact, including dentistry, which is often overlooked in the discussion. In this article, we will explore how dentistry and, more broadly, personal oral care, impact the planet and how we can prevent it.

So What is the Carbon Footprint of Dentistry? 

Oral care’s carbon footprint is significant due to several factors:

  • Travel: Over 60% of the carbon footprint in NHS dental services comes from patient and staff travel.
  • Dental Materials: The production and disposal of dental materials, especially those containing mercury and plastic, contribute heavily to environmental pollution.
  • Waste Production: Single-use plastics and other disposable materials used in dental practices generate substantial waste.

How Can We Minimise It?

Step 1: Reducing Travel Emissions

  • Local Access: Commissioning new dental services should consider patient travel patterns, prioritising locations accessible by public transport.
  • Promoting Green Commutes: Encouraging dental team members to walk, cycle, or carpool can significantly reduce emissions. Installing electric vehicle charging points for staff and patients can further support this initiative.
  • Telehealth Services: Utilising telehealth for consultations, dental triage, and follow-ups can reduce the need for travel, cutting down on carbon emissions.

Step 2: Sustainable Use of Dental Materials

  • Eco-Friendly Materials: Transitioning to eco-friendly dental materials and reducing reliance on mercury-containing amalgam can lower environmental impact. Adhering to the Minamata Convention's guidelines helps in mitigating mercury pollution.
  • Digital Solutions: Using digital impressions and records can reduce the need for physical materials, minimizing waste and pollution.

Step 3: Minimising Waste Production

  • Reusable Oral Care Alternatives: While single-use plastics are necessary for infection control, exploring reusable alternatives and recommending them to patients where possible can reduce waste. Implementing robust recycling programs is also crucial.
  • Circular Economy: Moving towards a circular economy where products are reused, refurbished, or recycled can significantly reduce the environmental impact of dental practices.

Step 4: Sustainable Procurement and Operations

  • Green Procurement: Choosing suppliers who prioritise sustainable practices and transparent reporting can help dental practices make environmentally responsible choices.
  • Energy Efficiency: Dental practices can switch to green energy providers and invest in renewable energy sources such as solar panels. Monitoring and reducing energy consumption through better insulation and energy-efficient appliances also contribute to lowering carbon emissions.

At Zerolla, we believe that every small step towards sustainability counts. By offering reusable, eco-friendly personal oral care products, we are contributing our bit to making dentistry and oral care greener. If you are a dentist or simply someone interested in eco-living, you can make a difference too by embracing one or more of the strategies we've outlined. Only if we all contribute can we collectively reduce the environmental impact of dentistry and oral care, contributing to a healthier planet. Together, we can turn our commitment to sustainability into tangible actions that make a real difference!

Sources:

Batsford, H., Shah, S. & Wilson, G. A changing climate and the dental profession. Br Dent J 232, 603–606 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-022-4202-1

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