Dentistry is a practice where operations are performed on the teeth or adjoining areas. The person who carries out these operations is called a Dentist, and this profession is aimed at:
- Educating individuals on good preventive methods for oral hygiene.
- Advising on individual oral hygiene and proffer solutions to patients with dental problems.
Although dentistry aims to help societies keep individuals free from oral discomforts, the practice has been found guilty of certain environmental disturbances. And this may be because we live in an era that is extremely cautious about protecting the ecosystem. This idea has been adopted by many, translating to a global movement. The term “going green” is being used to express actions taken to improve the health of the environment and community.
A research carried out showed that dentistry gives out very large carbon footprints. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon produced by an organization or individual, directly or indirectly. Carbon is a very important greenhouse gas that can be very harmful to the ecosystem. Hence, the implementation of Eco-Dentistry.
Eco-Dentistry is a scheme targeted at reducing the harmful effect of dental services on the environment while adhering to regulations and standards of the dental institution. The Smilist Dental in Brooklyn describes this scheme as a means to contribute more sustainable resources to the environment.
Eco-Dentistry, also known as green dentistry, environmental friendly dentistry, or sustainable dentistry, originated from environmental movements and environmentalism. The rise of this eco-friendly movement was initially proposed by Rachael Carson, and she has since been credited for the movement. The dental industry adopted the concept of eco-friendliness as a means to satisfy patients who have subscribed to this idea of sustainability and because it aims to contribute to protecting this same ecosystem. The increased environmental consciousness on eco-friendliness has led to a green transformation in the dental industry, resulting in patients seeking oral health advice from professionals who share similar values of environmental wellness. For green dentistry to thrive, the dental institute has to share similar beliefs as the masses (patients) on the need for sustainability in the environment.
The Dental Industry Carbon Footprint
To better understand the rise of green dentistry, we look at why the scheme was adopted and its benefits.
Carbon footprints can be said to be steps taken that can cause significant harm to the environment. The dental industry is known to be a massive consumer of energy and resources from the environment. Hence, these energy and resources are needed for the well-being of our environment. The industry uses a massive amount of energy through the electronic devices used and a large amount of water through the copious amounts of water. As a result, they release harmful substances into the environment through numerous disposable products for preclinical, clinical, and post-clinical use. Most of these disposable products are non-biodegradables.
How Can Eco-Dentistry Rise?
To minimize the carbon footprints of the dental industry, a blueprint that adopts the 4-R models of eco-friendliness was drafted and laid down by the dental industry while upholding asepsis and patient care standards. They are:
The 4-R Model: Reduce —— Reuse —— Recycle —— Rethink
This model aims to curtail waste by emphasizing sustainable consumption habits. This model encourages minimizing landfill waste while conserving energy and resources; this is the reduction phase (Reduce). A majority of the landfill waste from dental industries is disposable products. And in a bid to reduce this waste, the adoption of biodegradable items eliminates the reliance on disposable items because most of the disposable item’s use does not decompose.
Another R-model to be considered is using Reusable products (Reuse). By employing the use of reusable items, it eliminates the need to dispose of used items. Using these reusable items proffers a better option of recycling used products instead of manufacturing new ones, thereby keeping the consumption of energy and resources minimal. With the initiative of reduction or reusables, dental institutes can think (rethink) measures that can be adopted to promote this scheme and protect the environment.
In summary, eco-dentistry is an eco-friendly scheme aimed at protecting the ecosystem and creating a caring environment for the patients. Through this scheme, oral health practitioners are not only reminded of the social values they add to their patients’ lives but how they can also contribute positively to the environment.