Table of Contents      
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 59-61

Green dentistry: The future

1 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Sree Balaji Dental College and Hospital, Bharath University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Orthodontics, Sree Balaji Dental College and Hospital, Bharath University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication21-Dec-2017

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Mensudar Rathakrishnan
Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Sree Balaji Dental College and Hospital, Bharath University, Narayanapuram, Pallikaranai, Chennai - 600 100, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jicdro.jicdro_15_17

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Dentistry is a profession dedicated to promote health and wellness of the people. Green dentistry is a relatively new emerging concept in dentistry. Most dental offices are privately-owned small businesses and have no financial advantage to invest in many environmental-friendly practices. For this reason, more research is needed to find cost-effective environmental alternatives in dentistry. The aim of this article is to expand awareness and practice of eco-friendly dentistry.

Keywords: Biomedical, dental waste, eco-friendly, environment, green dentistry

How to cite this article:
Rathakrishnan M, Priyadarhini A. Green dentistry: The future. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ 2017;9:59-61

How to cite this URL:
Rathakrishnan M, Priyadarhini A. Green dentistry: The future. J Int Clin Dent Res Organ [serial online] 2017 [cited 2018 Mar 21];9:59-61. Available from:

   Introduction Top

Eco-friendly dentistry is a new upcoming emerging concept in dentistry. It is a high-tech approach, which reduces the environmental impact of dental practices in moving toward an ecologically sustainable health care system.[1] It also encompasses a service model for dentistry that supports and maintains wellness. Eco-friendly dentistry is an approach to meet the needs of millions of patients and helps dental professionals to protect planetary and community health as well as the financial health of their practices.[1] In dentistry, the biomedical waste generated includes sharps, used disposable items, infectious waste (blood-soaked cotton, gauze, etc.), hazardous waste [2] (mercury, lead), and chemical waste (such as spent film developers, fixers, and disinfectants). Different kinds of disposable items are also used such as latex gloves, plastic pouches, disposable patient bibs, plastic suction tips, headrest covers, and syringes. Office wastes are usually nonhazardous waste, for example, paper, cardboard, aluminum, plastics, etc., Thus, a major concern in management and disposal of these unfriendly waste have gained attention, and a lot of researches have been devoted to the environmental aspects of these dental waste and its significance on environmental pollutant.[2],[3]

According to the Eco-Dentistry Association, (green dentistry) they insist on to reduces waste and pollution, saves energy, water, and money and to incorporate high tech innovations, focus on wellness, and integrative practices. Hence, it mainly involves the concept of “4R”-Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rethink.[4]

   Components of Green Dentistry: it Includes Four Categories Top

  1. Reduce dental waste
  2. Pollution prevention
  3. Conservation of water, energy, and money
  4. Hi-tech dentistry.

Ten ways that we can be a part of dentistry's green future by reducing waste and pollution

  1. Digital imaging instead of traditional method
  2. Use of an amalgam separator
  3. Use of hospital-grade, reusable sterilization items, and patient barriers free from plastic
  4. Reduce packaging waste by clubbing the orders, which in turn will reduce the shipping waste
  5. Recycle and reuse the old hand instruments
  6. Use nontoxic, biodegradable surface disinfectants and cleaners
  7. Place bulk order of regularly used dental materials, which in turn costs cheaper too
  8. Use stainless steel reusable or compostable impression trays
  9. Disinfect the water lines regularly using biodegradable or enzymatic cleaners and never use chlorine bleach because it can release airborne mercury
  10. Avoid the use of toxic cold sterilization solutions such as glutaraldehyde, which is a powerful lung and skin irritant.

Save energy, water, and money

Conservation is the mantra of future green dentistry because it extends the life of our precious resources and enables us to save money. All that has to be noted is stop wasting the energy for which we pay but do not use. We should make sure that when we leave the working premises next time, check and look for those ubiquitous blinking lights emanating from electrical equipment.[5] It can include computers, intraoral cameras, television, or lights left on when no one is in the office. By turning off these items, we can conserve a lot of energy drawn by these items that are plugged into the grid, but not in use.[6] An exciting development in green dentistry's future is the recent introduction of energy- and water-saving dental equipment.

Use of LED operatory lights, which reduce electrical energy consumption by 70%, eliminating the need for expensive halogen bulbs and allowing for easier placement of composite restorations. Currently, manufacturers have come out with new waterless vacuum systems, which save about 360 gallons of water per day.[5],[6] If every dental office is installed with one of these waterless systems, we could collectively conserve as many as nine billion gallons of clean, drinkable water a year.[7],[8] That is equivalent to saving enough water to fill 15,000 olympic-sized swimming pools every year. Now think how green dentistry can put more “green” into our pocket.

Here are 10 ways to conserve energy, water, and money as a part of dentistry's green future

  1. Use of energy star-rated printers, computers, dishwashers, etc., which help us to conserve energy
  2. Change to LED operatory lights
  3. In-office water distiller
  4. Ensure that all electrical items are powered off at night
  5. Convert to a waterless vacuum system
  6. Use of LED for “Exit” signs board and other emergency indicators
  7. Switch to tooth-colored restorations
  8. Motivate and educate the patients to turn off the water while brushing their teeth, whereby saving plenty of water per day, per person
  9. Use of eco-friendly waterless hand sanitizers
  10. Install motion sensors to automatically turn off lights when people leave nonmedical areas such as business offices, supply closets, and staff lunchrooms.

Hi-tech dentistry

The last component of green dentistry is high-tech practice. Here are 10 high-tech innovations that are part of dentistry's green future:

  1. Digital imaging system
  2. CAD/CAM systems
  3. In-office sharps disposal equipment that renders sharps inert
  4. Steam sterilizers that eliminate the use of chemicals
  5. Digital patient charting, scheduling, and billing
  6. Digital paperless patient communication system such as E-mail appointments, reminders, and saving staff time
  7. Use of diode lasers instead of packing cords
  8. Use of website to promote and as a primary marketing tool
  9. Switch to electronic patient record format
  10. Use of oil-free compressors.

   Green Dentistry – Wellness-based Dentistry Top

Every branch of medicine is moving toward wellness-based model concept that is centered on prevention, early detection with less invasive treatment procedures. Dentistry's green future embraces this wellness-based model because our profession is on the front of total body wellness. Thus, going green is rapidly gaining its importance worldwide to address the environmental issues.

Followings are wellness-based modalities that are part of dentistry's green future. The 10 wellness-based modalities are:

  1. Early caries detection with the help of laser diagnostic tools
  2. Oral cancer diagnostics tool, such as VELscope technology for early detection
  3. Salivary testing to determine genetic predisposing factors and identify the pathogenic bacteria
  4. Use of Laser treatment for periodontal disease
  5. Aromatherapy which helps the patients to relax naturally
  6. Homeopathic treatment can reduce swelling and bruising for the patients after dental procedures without drug interaction
  7. Hand or foot massage to relax patients
  8. Presence of live green plants in the operatory area to increase oxygenation
  9. HEPA type air purifier or UV germicidal in-operatory air purifiers can be used to remove particulates from air
  10. Nutrient coenzyme such as CoQ10 antioxidant can be used to for general well-being of health.

   Green Recommendations Top

Recommendations for making dental office more eco-friendly includes:

  • Implement an eco-friendly newer sterilization program, which simultaneously eliminates the need for disposable autoclave wraps and disposable patient bibs [9]
  • Use recycling program to separately recycle the paper and plastic halves of autoclave bags
  • Use of dry dental vacuum pump, instead of a wet one
  • Install digital radiograph instead of traditional film-based X-rays. If using traditional X-rays, recycle the fixer and developer solutions and also recycle the lead foil from X-rays [10]
  • Use of eco-friendly surface disinfectants in dental offices such as tea tree oil or thyme
  • Shift to reusable or biodegradable sundries wherever possible: reusable operating room cotton towels instead of disposable plastic or paper patient bibs, reusable stainless steel high- and low-volume surgical/endodontic suction tips instead of disposable plastic, reusable glass irrigation syringe as a substitute for disposable plastic, biodegradable disposable cups instead of regular paper cups, and chlorine-free high postconsumer recycled paper products instead of traditional paper products
  • Use stainless steel prophy cups instead of disposable prophy-containing cups. It enables us to use only the amount of paste that is needed versus a predetermined amount, which is often more than we need
  • Use of disposable plastic or paper barriers only when truly needed
  • Use of energy star washer or dryer if applicable
  • Use fluorescent instead of halogen lighting
  • Use liquid crystal display instead of cathode ray tube for computer monitors
  • Use linoleum, environmental friendly choice for flooring
  • Use of an ultra-low volatile organic compound paint
  • Take help from an environment-friendly landscape company who uses natural growth product and procedures for the office's lawn.

   Conclusion Top

Eco-friendly dentistry is not just a “feel good” endeavor. Green dentistry is an evolving approach to reduce the environmental impact from dental practice. There is overwhelming evidence of global climate changes, and dentistry has a definite impact on the planet's eco-system. Thus, it is an ethical duty of all dentists in the world to play a primary role in developing sustainable solutions.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Avinash B, Avinash BS, Shivalinga BM, Jyothikiran S, Padmini MN. Going green with eco-friendly dentistry. J Contemp Dent Pract 2013;14:766-9.  Back to cited text no. 1
Mensudar R, Karthick A, Amudha D. Biomedical waste management – Green dentistry. Biomed Pharmacol J 2011;4:201-5.  Back to cited text no. 2
Mensudar R, Karthick A, Amudha D, Vivekanandhan P. A survey on biomedical waste management. Indian J Multidisciplinary Dent 2011;1:86-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Pockrass F, Pockrass I. The four “R's” of Eco - friendly dentistry. Am Dent Hyg Assoc 2008;22:18-21.  Back to cited text no. 4
DeMello MC, Clancy RM, McMillan J, McMillan R, Henry K, Bommhardt C, et al. Going.going.going.gone green. Making your dental practice environmentally friendly. J Mass Dent Soc 2010;59:29-32.  Back to cited text no. 5
Rastogi V, Sharma R, Yadav L, Satpute P, Sharma V. Green dentistry, a metamorphosis towards an eco-friendly dentistry: A short communication. J Clin Diagn Res 2014;8:ZM01-2.  Back to cited text no. 6
Adams E. Eco-friendly dentistry: Not a matter of choice. J Can Dent Assoc 2007;73:581-4.  Back to cited text no. 7
Lakshman P. Green dentistry-pollution free, eco-friendly dentistry. IDRR 2010;5:36-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
Mensudar R, Amudha D. Newer sterilization methods. Biosci Biotechnol Res Asia 2014;11:189-91.  Back to cited text no. 9
Rogers KD. Status of scrap (recyclable) dental amalgams as environmental health hazards or toxic substances. J Am Dent Assoc 1989;119:159-66.  Back to cited text no. 10


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