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News USA

The unofficial Earth Day flag, designed by John McConnell.
Apr 16, 2010 | News USA

Five ways dental practices can reduce waste and pollution

by Fred Michmershuizen, DTA

NEW YORK, USA: In honor of the 40th annual Earth Day, the Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA)—an international association promoting environmentally sound practices in dentistry—is encouraging dentists to do their part to help save the environment.

To help dentists be more environmentally conscious, the EDA has issued a checklist of standards for green dental offices. Specifically, the EDA is recommending that dental professionals make the following Earth Day resolutions to reduce waste and pollution:

1. Use an amalgam separator.
Even if you don’t place amalgams, you still need an amalgam separator, according to the EDA. In a typical one-dentist office that only removes amalgam fillings, an amalgam separator can capture 3 pounds of mercury-containing waste material in one year. Every restorative practice should have this important piece of equipment, the EDA says.

2. Practice litter-free infection control.
It is estimated that 1.7 billion plastic-paper sterilization pouches and 680 million barriers from U.S. dental offices will end up in landfills this year, according to the EDA. The EDA offers Best Practices for Waste-Reducing Sterilization and Infection Control to help dental professionals to go litter-free while maintaining the highest infection control standards. Cloth sterilization wraps and pouches and reusable cloth patient bibs and barriers, popular in high-tech and spa practices, help dentists significantly reduce their environmental footprint. When a paper-plastic pouch is the best solution, separate the paper from the plastic and recycle each appropriately, the EDA says.

3. Detoxify your infection control processes.
Using the right non-toxic, biodegradable cleaner and disinfectant is an important component of pollution-preventing infection control, according to the EDA. Line cleaners and cold sterile solutions like glutaraldahyde are a significant source of pollution from the dental industry and contribute to poor indoor air quality. Modern dentistry has eliminated the need for cold sterilization, and there are several environmentally safe line cleaners on the market. Making a switch to the non-toxic option will keep your office in compliance with hospital infection control standards while eliminating the “dental office smell” that patients hate, the EDA says.

4. Take digital images.
Dental radiographs are an important part of preventive dentistry, but traditional dental X-rays will contribute as much as 4.8 million lead foils and 28 million liters of toxic X-ray fixer to local ecosystems this year, according to the EDA. Conserve resources and help cool the planet by switching to digital patient charting. The EDA says patients will appreciate the significant reduction in radiation digital imaging provides and will benefit from an up-to-date approach to their healthcare records. Going digital will also save a practice more than US$8,500 a year, the EDA says.

5. Promote your practice paperlessly.
Dental practitioners are always looking for ways to build rapport with patients. You may not realize how much your patients will appreciate your office’s eco-friendly initiatives, especially when they are delivered paper-free. Use a digital marketing and communications provider that offers Web optimization and appointment confirmation by email or text message, the EDA recommends. Provide your patients with regular updates about your eco-friendly initiatives in electronic newsletters and e-mail blasts. Once or twice a year send a special newsletter using earth-friendly papers, inks and printing processes.

About Earth Day

Earth Day, held on April 22, is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the global environment. It was founded in 1970 by U.S. Sen. Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in. It is celebrated in many countries every year. Earth Day is in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.

The United Nations celebrates Earth Day each year on the spring equinox, which is often March 20. This is a tradition that was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969. The United Nations first celebrated Earth Day on the spring equinox in 1971. This was also the first time ever that the United Nations celebrated Earth Day. The first Earth Day on the spring equinox was also in 1970.

About the EDA

The EDA, co-founded by Dr Fred Pockrass, a dentist, and his entrepreneur wife, Ina Pockrass, offers practical tips to dental professionals on incorporating eco-friendly dental methods and practices. The organization recently launched a certification program for eco-friendly dental practices.

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