“In a typical dental office, there are at least 40 different hazardous chemicals and volatile organic compounds used daily for X-rays, sterilization, controlling infection and even filling teeth,” says Chicago cosmetic dentist Mladen Kralj, DMD. Figures like these have forced the dental industry to jump on the “green” bandwagon. “Dental well-being and environmental sustainability go hand in hand because they keep the mouth and planet free from erosion,” says New York cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS. However, the green dental movement is relatively new and has yet to really take off, but things are starting to change, thanks to alternative materials, techniques and procedures that reduce our output of resources and dependence on toxic chemicals. “More patients are asking about not only the materials used in their mouths, but also what changes we have made in our office to help the environment,” says Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS.
So, what makes a dental office eco-friendly?
Steam vs. Chemical Sterilization (creates a less-toxic environment):
Your dentist’s instruments can be effectively sterilized with steam and pressure instead of chemicals.
Recycling vs. Throwing Away (conserves materials):
One of the most effective ways for dentists to reduce their environmental footprint is by recycling.
Eco-Savvy Design vs. Non Eco-Conscious Design (reduces waste with eco- friendly alternatives):
Your dentist can choose to implement green options like low-voltage, halogen lights and automatic hand-dryers.
Going Digital vs. Paper Records (cuts down on paper use):
Storing records electronically is the greenest way to reduce dependence on paper goods.
Eco-Friendly Whitening vs. UV Bleaching (energy-free bleaching):
Instead of using technologies that contain ultraviolet energy, some doctors favor in-office bleaching that utilizes a plasma-emitting light to bleach the teeth.
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