Nobody wants to look in the mirror and discover that their teeth are green; that could mean serious dental problems. But what if you could take advantage of greener dental practices when it comes to your oral health?
If you’re already deeply entrenched in an environmentally responsible lifestyle then you have probably found ways to attend to the needs of your teeth on the home front, by making your own toothpaste with baking soda and fresh mint, for example, and purchasing biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes. But when it comes time to go to the dentist you may balk at all of the electrical machinery, chemical procedures, and waste that go into keeping your smile sparkling. However, there are now dentists that offer eco-friendly practices, and here are just a few of the steps they are taking to keep their patients clean and green.
Believe it or not, there is actually and Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA) that works to create dental procedure and use materials and technologies that are better for the environment, all while reducing waste and pollution generally found throughout the dental industry. You may wonder how this can be so in any medical practice, considering how much energy is needed, not to mention disposable materials (for the purposes of sanitation). But indeed, there are many ways in which modern dentistry is able to conserve and cut back on waste.
Although it would be impossible to completely eliminate disposable waste, due to strict standards of operation for medical practices (pertaining to sterilization of materials), there are certain areas in which dental practices can reduce their carbon footprint. Many offices are now using fabric (rather than paper) for head-rest covers, bibs, gowns, and so on. This allows them to launder these items (generally on site, using energy-star washers and dryers) rather than throwing them away. And many dentists have completely given up on the use of heavy metals for fillings and crowns. Instead, they are turning to more natural looking composite bonds and porcelain veneers, meaning that fewer metals are being mined from the Earth (polluting in the process) and less metal-related waste is making its way into the water supply.
And they’re also finding ways to cut back on harmful pollutants, in addition to waste reduction. Most up-to-date offices have now replaced traditional x-rays with digital radiography, which is good for both patients and the environment. Those who undergo the digital x-ray process are exposed to a tenth of the radiation that normal x-rays deliver. And the process allows for a drastic reduction in the silver and lead that is released into environment when chemical fixatives needed for the x-ray process get flushed into the sewer system. In addition, eco-friendly dental offices opt for biodegradable disinfectants and sterilization methods that use steam instead of chemicals, virtually eliminating hazardous waste.
Although these offices may still use quite a bit of electricity, and they can’t completely remove the element of waste from their practices, they are taking steps to ensure that your oral health does less damage to the environment. So don’t give up on a beautiful, white smile just because you’ve decided to go green. In this day and age, you can have your cake, eat it too, and still keep cavities at bay.
Leah Ryan writes for Philly Dental Spa where the top Philadelphia cosmetic dentists make your dream smile a reality.