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Green dentistry: 3 high-tech solutions for a sustainable practice

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With Earth Day coming up on April 22, we’re bringing you a series of blog posts to provide you and your team ideas for making your dental practice more sustainable. As you think about making changes at your practice, you may be asking yourself if “going green” is worth the investment.

Reasons to go green

Although the existential threat of climate change is likely motivation enough to go green, here’s another incentive: a recent study by IBM and the National Retail Federation says that nearly 70% of North American consumers prefer to do business with an environmentally friendly brand. From this, we can extrapolate that a significant portion of potential patients would be more likely to choose your services knowing that you share their concern for planetary wellness.

Perhaps more enticing still is that, according to a recent study conducted by the EDA, a single practice can enjoy nearly $50,000 of annual savings and return on investment by going green. In an increasingly crowded – and costly – industry, green dentistry can give your practice the advantage it needs to distinguish itself from the competition and boost its bottom line.

There are many ways dental practices can go green, such as choosing sustainable products and going paperless. But having an office equipped with the latest equipment and technology is another area to consider.

Dental waste in the U.S.

Going green: A worthy investment

Investing in quality equipment that will stand the test of time can greatly reduce dental waste and deliver long-term savings. It’s also worth noting that the life of most clinical instruments can be extended via proper processing – numerous ultrasonic cleaning and sterilization systems are now designed for green dentistry and provide eco-friendly maintenance solutions. Here are three high-tech solutions for green dentistry:

1. Digital imaging

Traditional X-rays produce an excess of lead foils and toxic fixer solutions, hazardous substances that pose a threat to environmental and human health. By replacing these systems with digital alternatives, not only can practices avoid this problem, they can also offer patients higher-quality images in less time, while minimizing radiation exposure.

2. Steam sterilization (autoclave)

Although chemical sterilizers are rare in modern practices, offices behind the curve and looking to go green should upgrade to autoclave units. These devices both eliminate the environmental and health hazards caused by chemicals and allow for reusable sterilization wraps. As a bonus, newer autoclave machines are more time-efficient and reliable than older sterilization systems.


Historically, dental practices relied on external laboratories to produce dental prostheses. Now, with the advent of CAD/CAM technology, same-day, in-house restorations and digital impressions are possible. Practices that implement this technology benefit from increased patient satisfaction and comfort, and cut their carbon footprint by eliminating transportation of materials and personnel between locations.

These are only a few technologies to consider on your journey to going green. Consult your Patterson representative for other steps you can take – such as sustainable products and going paperless – to create a more environmentally-friendly dental practice.

Selected references

Bekmagambetova D. Two-thirds of North Americans prefer eco-friendly brands, study finds (paywall). Barron’s. January 10, 2020.

Eco-Dentistry Association. Green dentistry.

Farahani A, Suchak M. Eco-friendly dentistry: The environmentally-responsible dental practice. University of Waterloo. April 3, 2007.

Kamodia S. Glove recycling case study: University of Michigan School of Dentistry case study. Greening the Dental Clinic.

Vogell S, Azzam M. Basic concepts of green dentistry. Decisions in Dentistry. March 13, 2020.

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Content from this article originally appeared in the December edition of OnTarget. Read the latest edition and view current promotions at pattersondental.com/dental/ontarget.

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Patterson Dental

At Patterson Dental, we are committed to partnering with dental practices of all sizes to help oral health professionals practice extraordinary dentistry. We do this by living up to our promise of Trusted Expertise, Unrivaled Support every day.



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