Dentistry is a major healthcare profession. Almost half of the metallic waste, excess water, excessive electricity have been used for dental procedures. But, this can be easily prevented. Eco-friendly concepts are gaining attention in recent times. One of the relatively new emerging trends in green dentistry. In simple terms, green dentistry is practising dentistry without causing harm to the environment. It enhances the wellness of the dentists and the surrounding. Hence, the aim of this article is to highlight the awareness of green dentistry and the practice of eco-friendly dentistry.
WHAT IS GREEN DENTISTRY?
This also called eco-friendly dentistry. Green dentistry is a high-tech approach that reduces the environmental impact of dental practices. It makes the dentists practise dentistry in an easier way. Hence, the patients will be benefited, the dental practice is done in an eco-friendly way.
HISTORY OF GREEN DENTISTRY:
The eco dentistry association (EDA) stands for Education, standards, and connection. This association insists on the patients as well as the dentist who practices green dentistry. EDA association implemented the concept of green dentistry. Dr Fred pockrass in 2008 found this association. After the continuous efforts of this association, in 2011 nearly 600 dentists started to practice green dentistry in the United States. Hence, the green dental office setup approved and practised in Portland, United States.
CONCEPT OF GREEN DENTISTRY:
According to the Eco dentistry association, they insist on reducing waste and pollution in dental clinics, saving energy and water, innovating high technology, and focusing on the wellness of society.
This can be termed as 4R’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink approach to put it in simple terms. This is the concept of green dentistry.
OBJECTIVES OF GREEN DENTISTRY:
- To reduce pollution in the dental clinic
- The amount of dental waste must be reduced from the dental clinics and hospitals.
- To conserve water, money, and electricity as much as possible.
- Use of non-toxic products, to eliminate toxic products as much as possible.
CONVENTIONAL TECHNIQUES IN DENTISTRY:
Radiographs are one of the most important parts of the diagnosis. It permits the visual examination of oral structures that cannot be seen in naked eyes. Without it, diagnosis, case prediction, and a treatment plan are impossible.
The conventional radiograph technique uses chemical solutions such as developer and fixer for processing the radiograph. The conventional radiograph film contains lead, tin, silver, etc. These were found to be hazardous to the human body if the patients get exposed multiple times. Most dental clinics, nowadays follow digital radiographs. But few traditional clinics still follow the conventional radiographic method.
The dental amalgam also called silver amalgam a restorative material used for filling dental caries. Amalgam is one of the old traditional silver restorations which contains silver, zinc, copper, tin, etc. Mercury used as a liquid for this restorative material. Mercury is hazardous to the oral cavity. Now the use of amalgam has been reduced over years. But still, dental hospitals have silver amalgam restorative material.
Most of the clinics have stopped the usage of dental amalgam. Instead replaced with restorations like composite, glass ionomer cement, and fluoride-based restorations. Amalgam separators an instrument used to separate amalgam particles entering the sewage systems. Moreover, These instruments capture the amalgam through sedimentation, filtration, centrifugation, etc. Therefore, the use of amalgam separators, amalgam can be recycled.
METHODS TO PRACTISE GREEN DENTISTRY:
DIGITAL X RAYS:
Digital images require a process called analogue to digital conversion. This image is a numeric format of the image content and its discreteness. Whereas, the digital x rays don’t require any methods to process the x-ray films. There is no need of chemicals. Further, the disposal of x-ray films is not an issue. Digital imaging works on two basic principles such as sampling and quantization. Basically, it works with sensors and digital image receptors.
Root canal procedure (RCT) involves the removal of infected pulp, from the tooth affected severely with dental caries. The use of hand files has been used traditionally. Hence, the use of digital endodontic files will reduce file breakage and is one of the best options to practice green dentistry.
The digital impression is a three-dimensional intraoral scanner-like device that captures the intraoral structures. This is one of the latest technology in dentistry. This replicates the intraoral tissues perfectly, whereas the conventional impressions sometimes fail to perfectly replicate the intraoral structures. Hence, the use of advanced technology is one of the best options for green dentistry. Digital radiographs also reduce 75-90% of radiation exposure when compared with traditional x rays.
CAD CAM :
CADCAM stands for computer-aided designing computer-aided machining. In this, a preprocessed block of ceramics is mixed with a binder into a mold. This binder keeps the powder together and helps in retaining the shape of the block. So the use of these preprocessed ceramic blocks is that the restorations with pre-processed blocks have superior mechanical properties. When compared with the normal restoration.
There are paper cups in dental clinics for the patient to rinse their mouth after prophylactic procedures. And so, the paper cups, magazines, plastic trays, plastic covers, or wraps around the sterilized instruments can be reused. After sterilization, the instruments packed in plastic wraps, these can be recycled easily.
Infection control and sterilization play an important role in dentistry. Sterilization defined as the complete removal of microorganisms. There are a few dangerous chemicals in sterilization. Further, these chemicals can be replaced by non-toxic products. The use of steam sterilization is better than toxic cold sterilization methods.
Silver amalgam is a type of permanent restorations. It is durable, cost-efficient and commonly used. But the mercury used in the restoration material is toxic to the environment. A recent study found that nearly 50% of dentists contribute to the hazardous use of mercury. Hence this should be prevented.
Amalgam separators an instrument used to separate the excess amalgam from the sewage system. Hence, it works on the principle of sedimentation, filtration, etc. The silver amalgam can be recycled easily using this instrument. So, if amalgam restorations are used in clinical setup, amalgam separators are very important.
Lighting plays an important role in clinics. it also creates a pleasant ambience for the patients as well as for the dentists. LED fluorescent lights, with a daylight balanced light setup, will minimize and save energy. Moreover, a green background is more pleasant provides a more soothing environment.
Green is the current trend nowadays. Ultraviolet power-saving lights will save power for nighttime. And also, these ultraviolet rays can kill harmful microorganisms in the clinical areas. The use of CPL lights (compact fluorescent lights) reduces up to almost 70% of the energy. Clinics can use eco-friendly lighting.
WATER LESS SYRINGES:
The three-way syringes used in clinics use almost 60% of water. It uses 360 gallons of water. Using waterless syringes can reduce this. These instruments are specially oiled to reduce the amount of water used. This also prevents water contamination.
Dispose the head caps, patient drapes, shoe covers, headrest covers, and suction metal tips after use.
WAYS TO HAVE GREEN DENTAL OFFICE SETUP:
- The use of digital X-rays in dental clinics minimizes exposure compared with traditional methods of x-ray.
- Amalgam separators should be available, in dental clinics, which reduces amalgam exposure. Hence, will reuse the amalgam. Make sure that it is reused properly, waste should not be dumped in some other areas.
- Reuse the waste properly. Therefore, dispose of in a proper way.
- If not in use, save electricity as much as possible, instruct the staff members, and switch off the lights.
- Save water as much as possible. Instruct the patients to turn off water taps after usage. Do not use excessively.
- Use non-toxic, biodegradable products as much as possible.
- Try to use High technology like digital x rays, digital impressions, digital files, and CAD-CAM.
- Use hospital-grade reusable sterilization products.
- Hence, Recycle the paper products in clinics
- The glutaraldehyde in cold sterilization is a toxic irritant. Therefore, avoid chemicals for sterilization.
By implementing these steps in dental clinics, will give a green dental office setup. The main goal of a green dental office setup is to reduce pollution, recycle, reuse, rethink. Hence, this will be definitely in our future dentistry.
HI TECH DENTISTRY:
The high tech dentistry components includes:
- Use of digital imaging
- CAD-CAM systems
- Reducing the amount of paper usage, email the patient appointments and reminders, digital patient diet charting, billing, etc,
- Use steam sterilizers, therefore this will reduce the usage of toxic chemicals.
- Maintaining electronic patient records.
- Using lasers (diode laser, a carbon dioxide laser) as a packing cord in infection control systems.
To conclude, green dentistry a high tech-based approach, which reduces the environmental impact of dentistry. Hence, remember the four R mantras, reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink. Reduce pollution, reuse and recycle the papers and other stuff. Conservation is the mantra of future dentistry.