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Five top tips to get patients practising sustainable dentistry at home

sustainable dentistry, practice green, sustainability

In the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare, sustainability has taken centre stage, and dentistry is no exception. Dental care goes beyond the practice, and as dental professionals, you hold a unique opportunity to educate and inspire patients to embrace eco-conscious oral care practices at home.

Keep reading to uncover practical strategies for promoting sustainable dental care routines at home, and together we can foster healthier smiles and a healthier planet.

1. The eco-friendly dental toolkit

In our quest for greener dentistry, it's crucial to start with the basics—the tools we use every day, not just in practice, but at home as well. Help your patients to build an eco-friendly dental toolkit - a collection of products and practices that align oral care with sustainability.

By integrating these elements into your practice and patient education, you can empower your patients to make eco-conscious choices without compromising their oral health.

Sustainable dental products

28Begin by discussing with patients the importance of toothbrush choice. Encourage patients to opt for toothbrushes made from renewable materials like bamboo or recycled plastics. These eco-friendly alternatives are not only gentle on the environment, but also effective in maintaining oral hygiene.

An electric toothbrush can also be a more sustainable choice, with less plastic being discarded when the bristles have worn down than with a standard brush.

Suggest alternatives to traditional dental floss, such as biodegradable floss, silk floss, or reusable floss picks. Educate patients on the environmental impact of conventional floss and the sustainable choices available. You can also make sure patients are furnished with eco-friendly interdental brushes.

Practice what you preach

As you guide your patients towards eco-friendly oral care at home, make sure you’ve embraced these principles in your dental practice. By stocking your office with environmentally conscious dental products, you can align your practice with the values of sustainability and set an inspiring example for your patients. You can also keep a stock of high-quality environmentally friendly products for patients to buy.

Through our Practice Green initiative you can access a range of products that we have certified as ‘green’, all emphasising the reduce, reuse, recycle ethos. It can be difficult to identify which products are truly green, with Practice Green we have done the hard work for you, curating a range of trusted green products, designed with both patient care and sustainability in mind.

2. Water conservation

25Water is a precious resource, and as dental professionals, we have a responsibility to use it wisely within our practices. By educating patients on water conservation techniques, you can contribute to a more sustainable future while providing exceptional oral care.

  1. Turn off the tap while brushing: Urge patients to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth. The habit of running water while brushing can lead to substantial water waste over time. Emphasise that this small change can make a big difference.
  2. Embrace cup-based rinsing: Start encouraging patients to use a cup for rinsing during their oral care routine, rather than letting the tap run continuously. This simple switch can significantly reduce water wastage without compromising hygiene.
  3. Eco-friendly tap attachments: Make sure patients that want to go the extra mile know about the availability of eco-friendly attachments that control water flow, ensuring a minimal and consistent stream during rinsing. These attachments are easy to install and can significantly reduce water consumption.

3. Responsible disposal of dental products

Proper disposal of dental products is an often-overlooked aspect of sustainable oral care. By educating patients on the correct disposal methods for dental items, we can minimise our environmental impact.27

  • Dental waste recycling: Discuss the importance of recycling dental waste, such as toothbrushes, floss containers, and toothpaste tubes. Emphasise the need to follow local recycling guidelines and identify recycling programs in your area that accept dental products.
  • Upcycling dental products: Encourage patients to explore creative ways to upcycle dental products. Toothbrushes can be repurposed as cleaning tools, floss containers used for small storage.
  • Full use: Make sure patients aren’t throwing away dental products early. Educate patients about when toothbrush bristles are too frayed to clean properly, so that they aren’t thrown away prematurely. Talk with patients about how much floss and mouthwash is needed per use, and remind patients that toothpaste tubes can be cut open to access any remaining product to avoid waste.

4. Reducing carbon footprint through transportation

Transportation to the practice can have a significant environmental impact, but there are ways for staff and patients to make eco-conscious choices.

  • Active transportation: Suggest biking or walking for staff who live within a reasonable distance of your practice. These active modes of transportation not only reduce emissions but also promote physical activity and well-being.Untitled design (27)
  • Public transportation: Promote the use of public transportation, such as buses or trains, as an eco-friendly alternative to driving. Provide information on public transit options near your dental office, making it easier for patients and staff to choose sustainable travel.
  • Carpooling and ride-sharing: Encourage staff to consider carpooling or ride-sharing when possible.
  • Phone or virtual appointments: Consider whether your dental practice offers phone or virtual appointments as an option for patients seeking oral care advice or consultations that don't require an in-person visit. These remote appointment alternatives can provide convenience for patients while reducing the burden of travel on the environment.

5. Sustainable oral care as a lifestyle

When we discuss sustainability in dentistry, one key principle stands out: the most sustainable dental care is the one that's rarely needed – and that is preventive dentistry.

It's a simple yet powerful concept that emphasises the pivotal role of preventive care in reducing the environmental footprint of the dental industry.26

The truth is, the less dental treatment an individual requires, the lighter their impact on the environment. By adopting robust dental care routines at home—consisting of regular brushing, flossing, mouthwash use, and sugar reduction—patients can significantly reduce their need for dental interventions. This not only preserves their oral health but also contributes to a more sustainable dental industry.

Sustainable oral care, in this context, is not just a personal commitment; it's a collective effort to lessen the strain on our healthcare resources and minimise the environmental consequences of dental treatments. By promoting these practices, we empower our patients to become partners in sustainability, making every brush and floss an act of environmental consciousness.

Get support on your environmental journey with Practice Green

Do you want your dental practice to go green, but you aren’t sure where to start? By getting involved with our Practice Green initiative you can discover ideas, support, and products you can utilise to take your practice green.

Whether you’re just getting started and want to find manageable first steps, or if you’re looking to make big green changes, Practice Green is here to help you.

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