Eco-dentistry (also called Eco-friendly dentistry or Green dentistry) is a term that refers to the aim of reducing the detrimental impact of dental services on the environment while still being able to adhere to the regulations and standards of the dentistry in their respective countries.
“Eco” comes from word “Ecological” which relates to not harming the environment. Eco-dentistry or Green dentistry as defined by Eco-dentistry Association is a high-tech approach that reduces the environmental impact of dental practices and encompasses a service model for dentistry that supports and maintains wellness. The term Eco-dentistry has roots originating from the Western world, begun the movement in the 1960s and gaining momentum in the 1970s and continues to the present day.
Over the past few decades, dentistry has encountered numerous changes from technological advances to new treatment options for patients. Looking forward to it, the rise of eco-friendly dental practice could possibly lay ahead to Eco-dentistry.
There are already few Eco-dentistry organisations in some countries which have proposed outcomes towards becoming more sustainable. The dental industry worldwide has to subsequently adopt the principles of sustainability and environmentalism. There is need to provide “education & standards” to patients and dentists to make them aware of eco-friendly dental practice. The aim should be to help dentists come up with safe and reusable alternatives that also lower a dentists operating cost whenever possible by using digital tools replacing the paper and following other necessary steps. In the last decade the dental industry saw more dentists choosing to make their offices environment friendly.
The dental associations all over the globe must implement a policy of sustainability to provide guidelines to assist in the environmental sustainability of dental offices. Guidelines must be set on basic principles of causing little or no damage to the environment and must be able to continue for a long time, all in harmony and enhance both present and future potential to meet human needs and aspirations.
Oral health is an extremely important part of human life. Dentistry as a profession should amalgamate sustainable development goals into regular practice and support a shift to an Eco-dentistry practice in pursuing healthy lives and well-being for all through all stages of life. It is the responsibility of all dental professionals to meet the demands of society to reduce the impact on natural resources at the same time promoting optimal oral health for all people and maintaining patient safety.
Basic dental principles should include ethical practice, with high levels of quality and safety. Eco-friendly concept integrates a broader commitment of the oral health professional to social and environmental responsibility. The right of future generations to a world with adequate natural resources must be respected.
The important Eco-dentistry suggested Policies (Ref. FDI):
1. The best eco-friendly way to ensure optimal and affordable oral health with minimal impact on environment is prevention of oral diseases and promoting the oral health.
2. The dentist should take steps to educate all of the dental team on eco-friendly practices and simultaneously reinforce safety of the patient and quality of treatment.
3. Dental practice should reduce the consumption of energy, water, paper and any material which could be harmful to the environment, as well as reduce waste and toxic releases to air and water.
4. Dental professionals should advice patients to save water and energy which they use for brushing and maintaining their teeth/oral hygiene. And also reinforce eco-friendly habits in their daily activities.
5. Eco-friendly dentistry can connect digital dentistry to wellness lifestyle practice, which can offer early diagnosis, preventive therapies and education that serve the needs of maintaining long-term wellness and seeking to avoid invasive or expensive procedures.
6. In consultation with health regulations & policies, decision should be made in using a disposable or reusable product, without compromising patient safety and quality of care.
7. Dental manufacturers should be encouraged to develop biodegradable and/or recyclable materials whenever possible.
8. Dental associations, institutions and National authorities should encourage research on the environmental impact of dental practice so that dentists can understand, monitor and report the impact of their actions.
9. Dental organizations should ensure their activities and operations are based on eco-friendly principles. They are encouraged to formulate best practice documents for the dentists.
10. Dental industry should be encouraged to integrate the concept of eco-friendly practice into their continuing education activities.
Author: Dr. Abdul Habeeb Bin Mohsin Al Kathiri, MDS
Specialist Prosthodontist (Crown and Bridge Specialist)