Business Case for Green Dentistry: What is the Bottom Line?
When many people hear the term “going green,” they think about recycling cans, bottles, and paper. However, as dental practice owners, we are fortunate to be surrounded by business elements that can be modified to enact changes that can have a positive impact on the environment as well as our bottom line. What’s more, many of these changes are easy to implement, allowing you to quickly reap the rewards of your efforts by:
- Distinguishing your dental practice from others in your market — A market study by Tandberg showed that 53 percent of the 1.1 billion global consumers choose products and services from companies who have a strong environmental reputation. Would you like this edge over your competition?
- Saving money on costly consumables (such as processing chemicals and fixer) as well as labor costs (due to workflow efficiencies).
- Improving patient treatment and transactional processing efficiency –most everyone these days is moving with pace and the dentist that can align to patient time values will be rewarded
If you are thinking about converting your office into a green dental practice, here are some ideas to get started:
|What You Can Do||Why It Helps||Bottom Line|
|Switch from film to digital radiography||Film uses a number of toxic fixers and chemicals for processing. While you can pay a retrieval service to remove these chemicals and safely dispose of them for your practice, the best way to go green is to eliminate them altogether. According to one article, switching to digital radiography can prevent the disposal of at least 200 liters of toxic fixer in just five years.||
|Implement an amalgam separator in your waste water lines or–better yet–replace it with one of many mercury free alternatives||According to a 2009 survey conducted by the American Dental Association, only 39 out of 100 dental practices used amalgam separators. However, these separators can have a significant impact on the environment by removing copper, tin, mercury and other scraps that can end up in waterways, where they may be ingested by fish. In fact, an amalgam separator implemented in a single dentist practice can capture approximately two pounds of dangerous waste in one year. By collecting the scraps, you not only prevent the pieces from entering the sewer, but also allow them to be recycled.||
|Go chartless||Here’s an easy way to save 10,000 pieces of paper in a year–upgrade to digital charting. Digital radiography products, such as computed radiography or direct digital systems, can be integrated into practice management software, eliminating the need for hard copies of your patient files. In addition, records will be easier to find since they will be located in once central location on your computers, rather than in filing cabinets.||
|Save paper in other ways||With today’s digital technology, there are a number of ways to further reduce the amount of paper your practice uses. For example, instead of sending patient reminder cards, you can use text messaging, emails, and voicemails and other electronic communications to remind patients about their upcoming appointments. And, instead of sending files to a referral, you can send all of the information digitally–saving time and paper.||
Going green doesn’t have to happen all at once–just making smalls changes is enough to help the environment. Does your practice use green dentistry? Let’s discuss it in the comments section.