When it comes to your oral health, you may be at somewhat of a loss as to how to go about securing dental services that are better for the environment. Like any branch of medical care, dentistry often requires the use of equipment, materials, and processes that are high on consumption, pollution, and waste. Although you have a good measure of control over the eco-friendliness of your at-home dental care (you can use biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes and make your own toothpaste with baking soda), you have a lot less say over what goes on in your dentist’s office. And yet, you can still make green choices when it comes to the overall health of your teeth and gums. By finding an environmentally friendly dental practice you can feel good about smiling. But how do you find this magical office?
Actually, you might be surprised to learn that many dental practices are embracing green initiatives when it comes to their operation. By simply asking about a few key aspects of your dentist’s business, you can quickly determine whether or not the office you currently visit is eco-friendly. Any modern dental office that considers itself up-to-date has probably switched over to digital radiography, meaning that they have done away with old-school x-rays. This is good news for you and other patients because it means that you are now getting only about 10% of the harmful radiation that you once received. But it’s great for the environment, as well. By going digital, doctors are able to drastically reduce the pollution from emulsifiers (lead, silver) that once seeped into the sewage systems.
Many offices have also switched over to disinfectants that are biodegradable as well as sterilization through steam (rather than chemicals that necessitate extra ventilation for harmful vapors, as well as the disposal of hazardous waste). And your dentist may be one of many that have sworn off metal for use in fillings, crowns, and so on, opting for porcelain or composite materials instead. This practice reduces the waste from heavy metals that can enter the water supply (not to mention the rampant pollution and waste produced by mining operations). Quite a few dental offices also use cloth gowns, bibs, and chair covers rather than paper as a way to reduce waste (laundering these items on site with energy star appliances). And they may even install energy-saving light bulbs (CFLs), use VOC-free paint on the walls, and replace regular faucets and toilets with low-flow models.
Of course, most of these things you can spot quickly upon entering the office, or you may call ahead to ask about them. But if you want to make your search easier, simply ask your dentist if the office holds a GreenDOC Certification from the Eco-Dentist Association (EDA). They come in Bronze, Silver, and Gold to denote the level of eco-friendliness that the office has achieved. Or you could simply go to the EDA website and search for members in your area. You might be surprised to discover how many dental offices near you participate in greening up their operations in order to give all of their patients a reason to smile.
About the Author
Sarah Danielson writes for Philly Dental Spa where the top Philadelphia cosmetic dentists make your dream smile a reality.