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Sustainable dentistry: Encouraging environmental consciousness in dental practice


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Ahead of World Environment Day, Dental Tribune International spoke with Dr Robert Panjkov, a dentist whose dental practice has won numerous environmental sustainability awards. (Image: Robert Panjkov)
Iveta Ramonaite, DTI

By Iveta Ramonaite, DTI

Fri. 5. June 2020


MELBOURNE, Australia: An increasing number of dental professionals are emphasising the need to move towards eco-friendly dentistry in order to reduce waste, decrease pollution and conserve energy. Green dentistry is the way forward, and it is likely to shape the future of oral health. To learn more about the subject and the specific sustainable developmental goals that may lessen the environmental impact of dental practices, Dental Tribune International spoke with Dr Robert Panjkov, the founder of an award-winning dental practice based in Melbourne.

“We believe that dentists are healthcare providers and that caring for the environment is a major part of this. When Beaconsfield Dental moved to new purpose-built premises in 2014, sustainability was an integral part of the design,” Panjkov explained.

The Beaconsfield Dental practice uses biodegradable barriers and plastics as well as environmentally friendly chemicals for dental treatments that involve suction, cleaning and washing. The oral hygiene products used in the practice are sustainable, and the staff undergo regular training on waste minimisation. They also take part in plogging, an activity that combines jogging and picking up litter, in order to clean up the nearby park and surrounding streets.

To make his practice sustainable, Panjkov had to implement certain special measures. These included the installation of 126 solar panels generating over 200 kWh of electricity. According to Panjkov, from January 2014 to May 2020, the solar panels generated over 159 MWh of electricity, saving over 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The practice has also installed a solar hot water system and has saved over 60,000 l of water a year by installing 17,000 l rainwater tanks for watering the garden and flushing the toilets.

“Caring for the environment is essential for health”

To manage waste, the practice has purchased ten compost bins, one of which is currently being used to assess whether the paper backing of autoclave pouches is compostable.

Other sustainable practices implemented by Beaconsfield Dental include the planting of an indigenous edible garden and the use of energy-efficient appliances and double-glazed windows. Electronic data is used for information storage rather than paper.

As pointed out by Panjkov, environmentally friendly dental practices offer enormous benefits. Besides saving electricity, they help cut long-term costs and provide personal and community recognition. More importantly, they enhance the status of the dental profession. “Caring for the environment is essential for health. It makes sense that clean air and water and living sustainably will make a positive impact on well-being,” Panjkov noted.

“As dental professionals, we can lead by example in caring for the environment,” he concluded. The practice has received numerous awards, including the Casey Cardinia business award for environmental sustainability for three consecutive years.

More information about the practice can be found here.

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