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Practical Tips for a More Sustainable Dental Practice – Dentistry Today

by adminjay

Sustainability is evolving from a nice-to-have to a must-have in all aspects of life—dentistry included. But how can we turn sustainability into concrete actions? Erania Brackett, Head of Sustainability at Dentsply Sirona, and Dr. Steven Mulligan, founding member of the FDI World Dental Federation Sustainability in Dentistry Task Team, discuss the many ways in which dental professionals can act more sustainably at work each day.

Brackett (left) and Dr. Mulligan (middle) participated with representatives from the FDI and Haleon in a panel discussion on Sustainability in Dentistry hosted by Dentsply Sirona at IDS 2023.

Q: What advice do you have for dental professionals just starting out on their sustainability journey?

SM: Take the time to learn about sustainability and what it means for the dental industry, commit to being part of the change, and then start looking for ways you can take action at work. You can even begin by bringing home-based habits into your practice—like switching the lights off during lunch breaks or using recycling bins. Once you have started to build momentum, you can leverage all the tools at your disposal to start integrating more complex and long-term sustainable actions into your practice. Sustainability doesn’t have to come with added costs, and every action helps build momentum.

EB: Sustainability can be a complex topic, but we don’t expect dental professionals to tackle it alone. In our recent global study, 3 in 4 dentists expressed interest in knowing more about sustainability in the dental industry.1 In response, Dentsply Sirona has developed a Sustainability Educational Curriculum, which is available online and free of charge. Together with partner companies, we supported FDI to develop the Sustainability in Dentistry toolkit, offering more than 100 concrete actions to take to become more sustainable.

Q: How can dental professionals make a meaningful reduction in the environmental footprint of their practices?

SM: Looking at the point of care, we learn that staff commuting and patient travel are the 2 biggest generators of carbon emissions, accounting for close to 65% of total emissions.2 By combining family appointments, for example, practices can help cut down on the significant emissions associated with travel. Single-use plastics represent another big problem in dentistry, with each procedure generating, on average, around 21 single-use plastic waste items.3 Prioritizing digital dentistry workflows like digital impression taking is another way practices can reduce waste and lower their carbon footprints.

EB: I think it’s important to consider the bigger picture, thinking about the actions that can be taken within day-to-day procedures, as well as how sustainability comes into play throughout the entire supply chain. Do supplies and equipment come in sustainable packaging? Do I order from suppliers that have a truly more sustainable offer and aren’t just greenwashing? Working with trusted partners and experts in this field can help dental professionals take their sustainability actions to the next level. 

Q: What are some of the other key areas where dental professionals can make a sustainable impact, outside of environmental solutions?

SM: Sustainable oral health are means providing equitable, ethical, high-quality, inclusive, and safe care, in addition to using resources appropriately and efficiently. Oral health has a significant impact on overall health and well-being. By increasing access to care—offering a day of free dental care to support communities in need—plus educating people about preventative oral health measures, we can work to build a more sustainable oral health industry. 

EB: Sustainability means acting responsibly at a business and social level, as well as implementing environmental actions. For practices, this means implementing fair and transparent hiring strategies, as well as supportive talent management for the whole team. It also means creating inclusive treatment spaces that enable more people, such as those living with disabilities, to access quality dental care. Ultimately, sustainability is all about going beyond the ordinary to make a positive difference for both our planet and the communities in which we live and work. Every action counts.

For more information, visit Dentsply Sirona’s website at dentsplysirona.com/sustainability.


1. Global Sustainability in Dentistry Study, commissioned by Dentsply Sirona in 2022.

2. Duane B, Harford S, Ramasubbu D, et al. Environmentally sustainable dentistry: a brief introduction to sustainable concepts within the dental practice. Br Dent J. 2019; 226; 292-295. 10.1038/s41415-019-0010-7.

3. Martin N, Mulligan S, Fuzesi P, et al. Quantification of single use plastics waste generated in clinical dental practice and hospital settings. J Dent. 2022 Mar;118:103948. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2022.103948. Epub 2022 Jan 10. PMID: 35026356.

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