Inside Dental Assisting
Going Green with the Eco-Dentistry Association in the Dental Office
The environmental group provides tools to make healthier practices possible
Having a green dental practice is possible, and the Eco-Dentistry Association can help. Ina Pockrass, Cofounder, The Eco-Dentistry Association, spoke with Inside Dental Assisting.
Please describe the Eco-Dentistry Association.
The Eco-Dentistry Association (EDA) is an international membership association of green dental professionals transforming the way dentistry is practiced. In two words, green dentistry is digital everything, from x-rays to patient charting to online ordering of supplies. We have educational offerings, such as webinars and our Green Dentistry Conference, which is held in October. We also offer a certification program developed just for dentistry called GreenDOC™, an online product guide with greener dental products, an online directory where patients can find member offices, and tips to help dental practices be greener and save money.
Which EDA programs can help dental assistants?
Dental assistants are an important part of our EDA community, and we empower them with information and support. In more than 80% of offices, assistants are responsible for ordering supplies, so we provide resources to help them choose cost-effective, greener options. Our online product guide is the most visited page on our website. We also have a survey on our site called, “How Toxic Is Your Office?”, which helps assistants identify how to make their offices even healthier places to work. We have content about why high-tech options such as digital x-rays are the smart choice clinically, financially, and environmentally. Providing education and resources focused on converting from conventional to digital x-rays is significant for us because it’s the assistants who are developing those conventional x-rays and managing developer waste, which contains a soup of chemicals. With digital imaging, x-rays are instantly available onscreen and retakes can be done quickly and efficiently, which helps with office productivity, as well as an assistant’s job satisfaction. We know assistants would rather spend their time chair side, doing the good work of helping patients, than developing x-rays. We also have dentists who bring their assistants to the Green Dentistry Conference because of its unique programming and opportunity for team building.
How can dental assistants make use of the EDA resources?
Dental assistants are welcomed as EDA members. When they join, they have access to our weekly members-only green tips, which are sent via email, and receive discounts on Green Dentistry Conference registration and CE. Some assistants cover the annual fee themselves, and in other cases, doctors pay their member fees. If the dentist joins (just $39 a month for one dentist), everyone in the office can share the member resources.
How can dental assistants protect themselves and patients?
Many people are reading the labels at the grocery store, so we encourage dental assistants to bring that same level of scrutiny to dental offices. Take, for example, the labels, precautions, and warnings on many commonly used surface disinfectants. Assistants may be surprised to learn they should be wearing protective clothing such as eye shields when using certain disinfectants, or that some products are hazardous to breathe. When dental assistants are empowered with information, they make better choices for everyone’s health and can better contribute to the success of the dental offices of which they are such an important part.