Edge browser users:
To download Word, Excel or PowerPoint files please right-click on the file you wish to download, and select 'Save link as...'

What is a sustainable dentistry scholar? And how you can be more green at work...

Blog Author Sara Harford and Darshini Alexandra Ramasubbu

Blog Date 11/04/2019


Eighteen months on since starting out as 'sustainable dentistry scholars', the time recently came for Darshini and I to hang up our scholar hats! During our time as Scholars we have been supported by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare (CSH) and Health Education England to undertake relevant projects which promote the sustainable use of resources in the provision of high-quality dental care. 

We have had an amazing opportunity to network with colleagues in the dental profession and wider sphere of healthcare on projects, present at national and international events and deliver education on environmental sustainability.

We learnt so much about sustainability and healthcare during our year as scholars. As healthcare providers we all have a role to play in tackling the biggest threat to global health in the 21st Century: climate change.

The effects of climate change aren't just limited to increasing temperatures worldwide, but also have a subsequent detrimental impact on health and disease.

The UK, including the NHS, is legally obligated to reduce its carbon footprint by 80% by 2050. This target was outlined in the Climate Change Act, 2008. In order to make this reduction a reality, we need to identify ways we can deliver healthcare more sustainably. 

As part of our scholarship we were part of the HEE dental public health clinical fellows team and we contributed to study days in London, hosted by a variety of speakers who presented about many aspects of dental and general public health which was incredibly informative and inspiring.

Our personal highlights were creating a guide to environmental sustainability in dental practice, helping to organise, facilitate and speak at our Sustainable Dentistry Conference in June for 100 delegates in London which was really well received, and being involved in our sustainable dental practice film shoot - many thanks to the DPH fellows for volunteering their efforts to make this possible and also really fun.

Some examples of the other projects we worked on were:

  • Conducting a survey on attitudes to environmental sustainability amongst the dental profession at the British Dental Industry Association (BDIA) conference
  • Developing a sustainability policy for the British Association of Community Dentistry (BASCD) conference and organisation
  • Attendance and presentation at the UK Dental Schools Council meeting
  • Liaison with the Association of Dental Education Europe (ADEE)
  • Contributing to a panel discussion about sustainability at the European Dental Students Association (EDSA) conference in Amsterdam
  • Delivering teaching on environmental sustainability foundation dentists
  • Blogging for the BDA
  • Commencing dialogue in dental schools about developing sustainability criteria for inclusion in the UK and Ireland Dentistry undergraduate syllabus
  • Contributing as authors to a set of 'Sustainable Dentistry' evidence-based papers peer-reviewed and currently published in the British Dental Journal
  • Development and publication of an evidence based practical Guide: 'Sustainable Dentistry: How-to Guide for Dental practices'
  • Development and facilitation of Webinars to promote the new Guide
We have also become extended members of the 'Dental Sustainability Advisory Group' comprised of members and stakeholders of various organisations including Public Health England, the Department of Health, the General Dental Council, BDA and industry who meet quarterly to provide a platform to discuss and promote sustainability within the dental care sector and to share recommendations to improve the sustainability of dental care. 

The scholarship has given us a unique opportunity to develop transferable skills in clinical leadership, research and project management while gaining a deeper understanding of the environmental sustainability of healthcare.

We continue to be passionate about environmental sustainability and hope to be involved in further work to promote and develop the sustainability of our health care service, which this scholarship has provided an excellent stepping stone for.

With special thanks to all the team at CSH and to the dental public health fellows at HEE for making it a brilliant experience. 

Please have a look at our Sustainable Dentistry: How- to Guide for Dental to find out how to be more green in your job.

Sara Harford and Darshini Alexandra Ramasubbu
HEE and CSH Sustainability Fellow


Join in the conversation

The BDA's Young Dentists Committee is offering you a chance to discuss your views and share your experience of working in dentistry. If you'd like to write an article for our next e-newsletter, please email us.

We'd also love to hear your thoughts on our blogs: please give feedback by tweeting @TheBDA, using the hashtag #youngdentists