Digital Dental Practices Better for the Environment

Dental offices utilize equipment and processes that could be detrimental to the environment. In an effort to be more green and to save money in several different ways, upgrading to or being digital from the start is the smart thing to do.

According to Brad Dykstra DDS, MBA, a private practice general dentist in Hudsonville, Michigan:

“Going green is much more than the ethically, morally, or politically correct thing to do; it is also beneficial to the bottom line of the practice. It is our responsibility as healthcare professionals and citizens of this planet to do our part in preserving our natural resources and minimizing the waste we produce. At the major dental shows there are now exhibits and seminars promoting “going green” in the dental office. If we take time to reflect, we realize the average dental office produces a tremendous amount of waste each year” (2011).

By converting, upgrading, or starting as digital practices, the costs of running a dental practice will pay for itself through the reduction of unnecessary hardware, paper, and film. The processes related to developing radiographs are expensive and the chemicals are harmful to the environment.

Dental practices can do several things to use and promote digital technologies:

“The first and most obvious decision in transitioning to digital imagine in radiography and photography. A second rather obvious and related way to go green is in totally implementing the EMRs or the digital patient record. The third way to go green is the use of digital impression scanners for acquiring dental impressions for crown and bridge, veneers, bite splints, orthodontia, and study models. The fourth and lease obvious way, at least until now, is using a waterless and variable speed oral evacuation system” (2011).

As just noted above, many varieties of tools and hardware can be used by a dental practice for patient visits. Dentist and other dental professionals can decide which tools best meet the needs of the practice. They should make sure the tools are compatible to existing practice management software and electronic health records (EHRs) systems. For new dental practices, tailor the digital equipment to integrate from the start.

Lessons learned:

• Going digital is good for the environment.
• Select tools, equipment, and hardware that promote “going green.”
• Select hardware, software and vendors that can integrate to practice management software and EHRs to improve efficiencies.

Dykstra, B. (2011, Feb.). Going green saves green good for the environment and the bottom line. Dental Economics, 101 (2); 56-58. Retrieved from July 8, 2012.