Sustainability in Dentistry
Pledge for Sustainable Oral Health Care
Oral healthcare is essential for overall health, well-being and quality of life. This needs to be delivered ethically, with high levels of quality and safety and be environmentally sustainable. In this way, the healthcare opportunities of current and future generations are respected and protected by actively minimizing negative environmental impacts.
Earn your dental sustainability stripes
The Sustainability in Dentistry interactive toolkit was made by FDI World Dental Federation to help dentists and their teams drive their activities towards more sustainable practices. Take the leap towards reducing your dental practice's environmental impact and earn sustainability stripes.
The FDI Sustainability Award promotes sustainability in dental practice by providing the opportunity for individuals or dental practices to receive global recognition. Each year four awards will be granted. Two for dental practice and two for individuals. Winners will be announced at the FDI World Dental Congress.
Increase awareness of the need to implement sustainable actions in the dental community.
To develop a guide for oral health professionals to identify actions that can lead to environmentally sustainable outcomes
To conduct a review of the current literature and identify the current research and guidelines and to identify any gaps in the literature regarding sustainability in dentistry.
The following infographic identifies four domains in the delivery of oral health care:
1. Preventive care
2. Operative care
3. integrated care
4. Ownership of care
With careful observance and engagement with each of these four domains of dental practice, it is possible to provide effective, high-quality, and environmentally sustainable oral health care. This is a team effort that involves the whole dental care team and the patients they serve. FDI is committed to raising awareness among its membership of the need to ‘think green.’ Many dentists are already making sustainability a high priority by using more environmentally friendly dental supplies and equipment, or by making structural, energy-efficient changes to their clinics. FDI can help by sharing these success stories to help build awareness in other countries and offices that are only beginning their sustainability journey.” – Dr James Zenk, DDS, chair of the FDI Dental Practice Committee.
The FDI Vision 2030 document calls for urgent action on oral health as one of the most prevalent diseases worldwide. These diseases are largely preventable and/or treatable in the early stages.
Improvements in oral health and well-being can be gained through prevention, screening and monitoring of systemic health conditions in environmentally friendly practices. Dentistry must be practiced ethically, with high levels of quality and safety and appropriate use of healthcare resources – including time, materials, workforce, and equipment. Sustainability 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.
This Sustainability in Dentistry project, supported by the FDI Policy Statement on Sustainability in Dentistry, demonstrates that the provision of high-quality dental care with a focus on prevention of oral diseases is at the core of how to ensure an environmentally sustainable practice. This resource is designed to interweave with the many other FDI projects that have been developed to guide oral health professionals and dental organizations. Efforts to reduce the pollution impact of dentistry on the environment must focus on a strategy of reduction alongside any recycling and reusing capabilities when possible. A reduction of carbon footprint is achieved through the provision of optimal health care, by reducing the number of dental appointments people need and reducing the consumption of dental materials. Thus, optimal oral health care has two distinct outcomes: good oral health care outcomes and a reduced environmental impact.
Sustainability in Dentistry Task Team
The Sustainability in Dentistry Task Team provides guidance and scientific expertise to ensure sound implementation of the Sustainability in Dentistry project, which aims to map out strategies and implement solutions to help reduce the environmental impact of dentistry and the dental industry.
Climate change can be overwhelming. The science is complicated, and there are still many unknowns when it comes to future consequences. While real solutions will need global action, there are choices you can make in your daily life to reduce your personal environmental impact.
Every time you visit the dentist you create a carbon footprint caused by the transport of equipment and materials, your travel to the dental practice, and through the waste generated during appointments. That isn’t to say you should stop visiting the dental practice! However, you can work with your dental team to reduce your carbon footprint.
What is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is the entire quantity of greenhouse gas emissions produced by a product or service during its manufacture, use, and disposal. It comprises carbon dioxide, the most prevalent gas released by humans, as well as other gases such as methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases, all of which trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming.
We can help to reduce our impact on the planet through having a healthy mouth. Making small changes adds up a larger impact over time.
- Preventing oral diseases though a healthy diet and a good oral hygiene regime
- Recycling oral hygiene products, where possible
- Promoting sustainability in partnership with your dental practice
- Reducing CO2 by using digital technology (Teledentistry) if possible
- Using sustainable transport to reach dental appointments
Increase awareness among the public about how they can help improve sustainability in dentistry
Produce resources for the public to understand their role in improving sustainability in dentistry
Empower people to take charge of their oral health
Did you know that every plastic toothbrush ever made still exists somewhere on the planet? Considering the world’s population of 7.53 billion people, that makes roughly 29.4 billion toothbrushes each year. On average, a plastic toothbrush weighs around 20 g and so it can be calculated that the whole of humanity produces 600 million kg of plastic toothbrush waste in only 365 days.
Sustainability in action
With the oral healthcare sector being an important contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, many dentists are making sustainability a high priority by using more environmentally friendly dental supplies and equipment, or by making structural, energy-efficient changes to their clinics. Dentists and dental teams are taking the initiative to make more eco-friendly choices such as using public transport, walking, or cycling to work, and promoting high-quality preventive dentistry. Here FDI presents initiatives or case studies of sustainability in action and calls for oral health professionals and dental clinics everywhere to take inspiration and make their practice ‘greener’ and more environmentally friendly.
The presented case studies are submitted by individuals, or organizations and are not representative of FDI.
Is your clinic making sustainable choices to reduce its environmental impact? You can submit your initiatives or case studies to REngland@fdiworlddental.org
Meet the 2023 Sustainability Champions leading the way to a greener future
The Sustainability Award celebrates and rewards those who can demonstrate that they implemented sustainable initiatives within their dental practices. This year, winners in two categories were celebrated: Individual and Dental Practice. These awards are a recognition of their outstanding commitment of adopting best-practice measures to the overall sustainability of their dental practice.
In the individual category, the deserving winner is Mrs Ignacia Vial from Chile.
Read what Ignacia Vial did to improve Sustainability in her dental practice: “Our sustainability project goes hand in hand with Ceromed, which is a startup created by Dr. Vial in 2018 that offers a comprehensive service for the management of non-hazardous medical waste generated in the medical area, which was established in the consultation in the year 2020. With this we seek to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills by recycling waste and using reusable and environmentally friendly supplies.”
In the dental practice category, there are two exceptional winners: Clinica Odontologica Alama / Odontoruteros from Chile, and Ars Salutaris from Croatia.
Read what Clinica Odontologica Alama / Odontoruteros did to improve Sustainability in their dental practice: “Our commitment to sustainability has driven significant changes in our clinical practice. The biggest change was in changing latex gloves for compostable ones, we now use cornstarch cups, instead of the regular plastic ones. Also, biodegradable and compostable bags were introduced for waste disposal. Our hand soap is now biodegradable, ensuring minimal impact on the environment.
We prioritize reusable and eco-friendly materials, using washable, autoclavable fabric for our clinical aprons (PPE) and manufacturing dental uniforms with 40% recycled material. Our laundry practices include the use of biodegradable detergents.
In our efforts to promote sustainable oral care, we provide each patient with a biodegradable, recyclable bamboo toothbrush with a compostable handle. To minimize the use of chemical developers and radiological plates, we employ digital radiology technology. Additionally, our CAD CAM Cerec technology eliminates the need for silicone impressions, which are typically discarded as waste. Also, we have implemented a totem where patients can bring and recycle their old toothbrushes, even those made of plastic. Beyond our clinic, we actively engage in sustainable practices. Organic waste is composted using a bokashi system, and we diligently recycle as much as possible. Moreover, we repurpose non-recyclable plastics, such as the plastic wrap used for instrument sterilization, by creating ecological bricks.
These comprehensive sustainability measures reflect our dedication to reducing our environmental impact and promoting a more eco-conscious dental practice. By implementing these changes, we strive to contribute positively to the planet and inspire others in the dental community to embrace sustainable practices.”
Please watch this video to see what Ars Salutaris have been doing to improve sustainability in their dental practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTIiPYZarB4
International Dental Journal supporting commentary
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