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Can we be more 'green' in dentistry? Sustainable dentistry in your practice

Blog Author Sara Harford

Blog Date 15/05/2018



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. 

But what does all this have to do with dentistry?

The healthcare sector is the largest carbon emitter in the United Kingdom (UK), with the National Health Service (NHS) contributing approximately 4.5% of the UK’s carbon emissions.

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. 

Dentistry is a resource-intensive field and recent work by Duane et al (2017) has shown that NHS primary care dentistry does not have the typical carbon emission pattern classically shown in other areas of healthcare. 

The biggest contributors to the dental carbon footprint include staff and patient travel (over 65%), and procurement - these are areas that can be difficult to address and gain reduction in. If our carbon reduction targets are to be achieved, we cannot continue to deliver care as we always have without change.

What can you do to practice dentistry more sustainably?

So how can we reduce the environmental burden of our dental practice and practice more sustainably? How can we ‘future-proof’ dentistry?

We will debate these questions at an upcoming conference hosted by Health Education England in partnership with The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare on Friday 29 June in central London.

Our conference aims to encourage established dentists, new graduates and any members of the dental team to find out what we can all do to reduce the environmental impact of dental care and how we can practice more sustainably every day.

There will be a variety of established dental health professionals presenting on a variety of topics relating to sustainable dentistry and there will be opportunities to participate in workshops and discussions with colleagues.  

The event is free to attend and will give you 4-hours of verifiable CPD – book online.  

If you’re unable to attend the conference but would like more information about achieving environmentally sustainable dentistry, have a look at the links below:

Sara Harford

HEE and CSH Sustainability Fellow


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