The field of orthodontics is changing rapidly today as advances in technology provide new and better treatment options that can reduce treatment times and conserve natural resources, too. In this post, we’ll show you the brand new facts of your orthodontics and the environmental impact of your perfect smile. Now it’s time to show you what’s happening.
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Orthodontics and its Environmental Impact
For this reason, there is a growing push in the orthodontic field for practitioners to adopt a more sustainable approach to practicing medicine and treating patients, one that reduces landfill waste and the toxic burden on our planet. In one recent journal article in the Dental Press Journal of Orthodontics, researchers identified common areas where the use of disposable goods, including paper and plastic goods and potentially toxic cleaners and chemicals, may be contributing to a negative environmental impact.
The paper’s authors assert that, ideally, a shift towards sustainable orthodontics practices should begin at the time the dental office itself is being planned or renovated. However, progress can be instituted at any stage and even within an active and busy orthodontic clinic. As a patient or parent, it is important to be aware of this shift within the field of orthodontia itself so you can make the most informed choice for yourself and your children.
Going Green to Reduce Environmental Impact
In some ways, making the switch to sustainable orthodontia is as easy as learning about best practices in early adopters and incorporating these. Here are some common examples to watch for that indicate your orthodontist is committed to providing sustainable care in a manner that is safe, healthy and planet-friendly.
- Going paperless by instituting email receipts and the use of a patient portal rather than paper print-outs and reminder cards.
- Upgrading to low-flow fixtures, motion-activated light sensors, and energy-saver light bulbs.
- Making the switch to clean, green power sources such as wind or solar energy.
- Using a programmable thermostat to control seasonal office heating and cooling.
- Instituting an in-office recycling program for paper, plastic and other eligible items.
- Recycling printer and toner cartridges, pre-used X-ray materials, used computer parts, and accessories and other recyclable materials.
- Offering take-home patient care kits that feature reusable rather than disposable materials.
- Choosing biodegradable and recyclable materials for business cards, appointment cards, letterheads, brochures, and other marketing materials.
- Choosing only natural materials for office furnishings, including rugs, flooring, wall art, furniture, and draperies.
- Switching to clean, green cleaning products and personal care products with no toxic chemical ingredients.
- Upgrading to low-radiation, digital X-rays that don’t require chemical developers and use lead-free protective patient drapes.
- Making the switch to safe and mercury-free amalgam materials and offering patients.
- Using safe, eco-friendly hot steam sterilization instead of toxic antiseptics and sterilization methods.
- Updating to digital 3D scanning for impressions and molds to reduce materials used.
Invisalign and Other Eco-Friendly Orthodontic Practices
Many patients are interested in Invisalign because the aligners are removable for special events and daily cleaning. They can be more comfortable than permanent braces and are typically less visible as well. But there is another benefit you may not be unaware of, which is that the aligners can be a more eco-friendly, sustainable choice as well.
The aligners are BPA (Bisphenol-A) free, which is important since BPAs are estrogenic and have been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers and other health issues. BPA is also toxic to the environment. Since aligners are now a popular choice for teens as well as adults, it is incredibly important to ensure the orthodontist uses only the safest materials to make the aligners.
Sustainable Orthodontics is Safer and Smarter
Even in the best-case scenario, the average course of treatment will be six to 12 months. The typical treatment time period is more commonly between 16 to 18 months and even up to 24 months. And since the American Association of Orthodontists is now recommending that children have their first orthodontic consultation as early as age seven, it is more important than ever to be sure your choice of orthodontia professional is using only the safest and most sustainable materials and supplies to examine and treat your child.
By making sure nothing goes into your mouth or into your child’s mouth that might potentially cause an adverse reaction now or later in life, you not only protect your family but you also prevent toxic materials from being used, disposed of and ending up our oceans or landfills. Sustainable orthodontia doesn’t have to cost any more than traditional care, but it feels better and leaves a lasting legacy for the next generation.
Choosing Safe, Non-Toxic Treatment Materials
If you are a parent of a child who has just been diagnosed and is beginning a course of orthodontics, you want to know exactly what is going into your child’s mouth. It is perfectly fine to ask your orthodontia provider to explain what materials will be used and verify that they are all safe and non-toxic.
Dental wax, bonding primer, bonding cement, aligners, impression materials, rubber bands, spacers, hardware, retainers, bands, and sealants have come a long way since the early days of orthodontia. Ask for biocompatible, non-irritating, non-toxic, metal-free materials when designing your child’s treatment plan.
Are you Seeking Safe, Sustainable Orthodontics?
As numerous research studies have now demonstrated, what you put into your mouth (or into your child’s mouth) really matters. Wherever possible, it is smart to steer clear of known toxins and opt for a planet-saving, health-promoting sustainable alternative.
If you have questions about orthodontic care for yourself or a family member or want to know if you are a good candidate for aligners rather than traditional braces, give Dr. Gluck and his amazing team a call to schedule your initial consultation.
2002 Richard Jones Road
Suite A-200 Nashville, TN 37215
Phone: 615 269 5903
Orthodontics and its Environmental Impact | QUICK FACTS
Dr. Joel Gluck has practiced orthodontics since 1983 when he opened his own office in Nashville. He earned his undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and his dental degree at the University of Tennessee. Dr. Gluck then completed an orthodontic specialty residency at the University of Michigan, one of the top five orthodontic training residencies in the country. He also wrote an original thesis and received a Master of Science degree.