As co-founder of the Eco-Dentistry Association, I want to make it simple for consumers to make earth-friendly choices when it comes to their dental care. So, I’m providing everyone with a few green ideas that will make it easy to go a darker shade of green every day of the week.
Day 1: Choose clean green tooth care products. Your home care routine (brushing, flossing, rinsing), works in conjunction with a professional teeth cleaning program to manage bacteria levels in your mouth. But certain brands of products contain chemicals that can upset the oral pH balance and lead to canker sores or other problems. Pick a paste that doesn’t contain sodium lauryl sulfate, and make sure your mouth rinse is alcohol-free.
Day 2: Turn off the Tap! Did you know the average person wastes approximately 90 glasses of water every day by leaving the tap running while they brush their teeth? That means in the United States alone, we’re literally pouring down the drain 27 Billion Glasses of clean, drinkable water every day, just brushing our teeth.
Day 3: Find a dental practice you love. Dentistry is a healing profession. It’s important to have a satisfying relationship with your dental wellness team, and to know they share your values for wellness of people and planet. Go to http://www.ecodentistry.org and click on ‘Find an EDA Member’ to search for a dental professional in your area that incorporates eco-friendly practices.
Day 4: Already love your dentist? If you’ve got a dentist you love, but don’t love all the plastic and paper waste you see in the practice, visit http://www.ecodentistry.org and click on ‘Green My Dentist.’ You can print a letter to your dentist with compelling reasons to incorporate simple, cost-saving green methods into their business.
Day 5: Paper or Plastic? Neither. Ask for cloth. Ask your dentist to use cloth products such as patient bibs rather than paper or plastic. Studies show that using cloth sterilization methods diverts nearly 5000 pieces of paper and 5000 pieces of plastic from the average dental practice in just one year. Using fabric patient “bibs” instead of 2-ply paper, 1-ply plastic bibs diverts 10,200 pieces of paper and 5,100 pieces of plastic from landfill annually.
Day 6: Go Digital! Ask your dental office if they offer digital x-rays. Digital x-rays offer have 75-90% less radiation than the traditional ones while eliminating the need for toxic x-ray fixer solutions and lead foils.
Day 7: Get Informed! Many dentists go the extra mile to protect the health of people and planet. Amalgam separators keep toxic dental materials from entering the water stream, but aren’t required in every state; digital radiography replaces the outdated traditional x-rays, decreasing patient exposure to radiation, and eliminating waste and pollution. Find more ways that hi-tech and green dentistry are helping both people and planet, and download a list of questions to ask your dental practitioner, at http://www.ecodentistry.org.
The Eco-Dentistry Association offers dental professionals practical tips on reducing waste and pollution and conserving resources, like using cloth wrappers instead of disposables to sterilize dental instruments, installing energy efficient lighting, properly disposing of mercury-containing dental waste, and planet-friendly building and office methods, like non-toxic paint and recycled copy paper.
It provides the public with information about digital x-ray systems which reduce radiation exposure by up to 90%, dental appliances free from the hormone-disrupting chemical, bisphenol-A, found in many plastics, and questions to ask their dentists about environmental stewardship.
More information can be found at www.ecodentistry.org