People are much more socially conscious today. They think about things like their carbon footprint and their effect on the environment every time they make a purchase. In fact, 54% of consumers state that environmentally conscious brands have an edge when it comes to gaining their loyalty. The dental industry is not immune to this demand. More patients are interested in eco-friendly dentistry and adopting it can help your office become more sustainable and more profitable.

What is Eco-Friendly Dentistry?

Very broadly, eco-friendly dentistry aims to cut the negative impact of your practice on your community and environment. Dental offices that adopt it may use biodegradable materials, cut water and energy consumption, and use waste management and recycling.

There are a lot of opportunities to improve sustainability in the dental office. Advancements in technology have helped. Cloud storage allowed us to limit paper use by digitizing our files. Better sanitation equipment helps practices reuse items they used to throw away after every patient. With every advancement is another opportunity to go greener.

The Pros and Cons of Green Dentistry

Eco-friendly dentistry is a newer area of healthcare, so there is a lot of contradictory information on it. However, most professionals agree on its general pros and cons. While it is great for practices and the environment, it can also be expensive and challenging to implement.



  • Environmental improvements: The most obvious benefit is the conservation of natural resources and the reduction of pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. That is good for everyone!
  • Long-term cost savings: As green dentistry promotes a circular supply chain where reuse is more common than disposal, practices see lower inventory costs. Control of water and electric use also cuts utility costs.
  • Improved patient experience: Cost control filters into the patient experience. You can provide better service as you can focus your resources on treatment. Meanwhile, you also please the growing base of patients who want more sustainability from the businesses they choose.
  • Higher upfront costs: Going green in the dental practice will require adopting innovative technology and processes. That leads to a higher upfront investment that many practices cannot afford.
  • Access: Eco-friendly dentistry is still very new. There is not much information on it, and even worse, there is a lot of misinformation. “Greenwashing,” where companies make unsubstantiated claims about their sustainability, is still prevalent as there are not a lot of consistent regulations around it.

The pros of eco-friendly dentistry outweigh the cons for most practices. Newer ones may even be at an advantage because they can grow their practice from a sustainable place right from the start.

5 Tips to Make Your Dental Practice Greener

There are several ways that dental practices can adopt eco-friendly standards quickly and with few cost increases. Here are some ways to make your dental practice green:


  1. Read your labels: There are not a lot of consistent labeling standards when it comes to eco-friendly or green products. It will be up to your office to review the materials in the products you use to ensure they are biocompatible, recyclable, and biodegradable.
Labels on recyclable materials shows you the type of recyclable.
Figure 1: Labels on recyclable materials shows you the type of recyclable.
  1. Digitize your records: Digital record-keeping reduces your use of paper, but it can also cut your use of space, which includes electricity and climate control in your storage area. While dental offices may always need to use paper in some way or another, the more you can digitize, the more waste you cut. This also goes for digital x-rays, which produce 75% less radiation exposure than traditional ones. While traditional x-rays are still perfectly safe, eco-friendly dentistry means taking advantage of any opportunity to cut toxic emissions.


  1. Choose energy and water-efficient devices: Smart thermostats and lights can control your electricity use by adapting your office based on what is needed to maintain a comfortable working temperature. LED lighting and Energy Star-rated appliances are also good options for controlling electricity use. Meanwhile, water-efficient tools like low-flow faucets and toilets will cut water consumption and waste.
Energy efficient devices help control electricity use while keeping temperatures comfortable.
Figure 2: Energy efficient devices help control electricity use while keeping temperatures comfortable.
  1. Implement a recycling program: A lot of practices start a recycling program with good intentions, but then let it die out as other office needs take priority. A good recycling program for products like amalgam, plastic, and paper will have easier standards than anyone can follow. You will also need someone to take ownership of it and make sure everyone knows and follows recycling policies.


  1. Work with your community: One big part of going green in the dental office is promoting sustainability in your community. Working with local organizations that are focused on the environment can help you stay up to date on new strategies to improve your environmental impact.


Starting small and scaling up is the best approach to adopting eco-friendly dentistry. As you switch out old materials for sustainable ones, digitize your records, and control your natural resource use, you will start to see the long-term benefits of going green. It’s not just a practice that’s good for the environment; it's also good for your long-term growth.