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.
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 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.
International Dental Journal supporting commentary
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
The Sustainability in Dentistry project is supported by our Founding Partners: