The Environmental Impact of Dentistry

baby sucking on toothbrush, yellow shirt in highchair in green kitchen happy

Look out for an eco dentist to avoid exposure to dangerous chemicals at a young age.

In our everyday lives, almost everything we do has an environmental impact that can affect this generation and the next. When it comes to potential health services, it’s also important to see how our everyday tools, resources, and emissions can affect the world and environment around us.

It is part of social responsibility—especially as a business—to find and define where possible problem areas might be in the way we do business from our equipment to the everyday use of tools and resources.

Playing a part in the health of our environment should be at the forefront of any dentist’s practice goals. 

In this article, we’re going to discuss the environmental impact that dentistry plays in the world around us and how both business and clientele can do their part in helping reduce our carbon footprint and impact our environment for the better.

Doing Your Part

If you’re a dental practitioner, you should do your part in recognizing the very specific, yet forward-thinking actions that you can take on an everyday basis that can help reduce your footprint and improve the environment around you.

However, before you have an impact in the world, you have to first focus on what’s happening in your own office.

Materials and Procedures

By first focusing on the materials you use in your dentist office and how they may affect the environment around us, you can then make small, simple changes to minimize the production of these wastes. This can help reduce the overall negative environmental effects and slowly, but surely, reduce your footprint.

Ask your dentist about these eco hazards

To help you identify which wastes from your health center are disturbing the environment, look into how your office is getting rid of or using these common wastes:

  • Dental amalgam
  • Lead
  • Silver
  • Biomedical, general office waste

Their environmental impact:

Biomedical waste—this can include materials that may cause disease or have pathogenic organisms that can be harmful to any person or persons around. In practical terms, they are gauzes, tissues, and syringes that have blood on them or have had contact with the blood of another person. This type of material can also be broken into two classified groups—sharp and non-sharp.

Obviously, the non-sharp biomedical waste should be disposed of in a properly-labeled bag. The sharp waste—like needles and syringes—should instead be placed in a puncture-resistant, leak-proof, properly labeled container.

General office waste—not just confined to the dental industry, the negative impact of the environment can be reduced by minimizing plastic use and transitioning to environmentally-friendly office supplies that have minimal packaging and reusable plastic. An office can also try to switch to energy-efficient lighting and temperature regulation—this can reduce the energy use and output of a building.

Lead—for lead, you can return the lead shields that are produced from film packets—collected and returned to the manufacturer so they can be properly recycled. This is a simple way to get rid of waste efficiently in a way that doesn’t harm the environment.

Silver—this heavy metal can improperly infiltrate our water system if it is not disposed of correctly in the dental office. This can be toxic to the local population, so it’s important to try your best in doing your proper to properly dispose of it or limit the use of it in your office.

Mercury—although there isn’t a ton of mercury produced by the individual dentist, the accumulated waste of mercury is extremely unfriendly for the environment. A dental professional can simply adopt the most practical approach when disposing of waste to minimize their possible negative environmental impact.

Dentistry leaving a positive impact

Whether it’s making a positive impact for clientele or impacting the environment around us in a beneficial way, we always want to approach each situation in a cooperative light to help the world around us improve. As the technology in the dental industry gets more and more prevalent around us, our social responsibility should also hold importance.


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