Maintaining high standards while reducing environmental impact


  Posted by: Dental Design      5th March 2023

As we continue to see the effects that climate change is having on the environment, people will be considering ways in which they can reduce their impact. Many will be looking for sustainable products in the shops, choosing to switch to renewable energy sources, and looking for ways to reduce their energy use. For many, travel is a major contributor to their carbon footprint,[i] along with their energy usage at home[ii] and the amount of single use plastic they use.[iii] These all contribute to peoples’ everyday environmental impact.

However, the energy usage required to run a business, especially a dental practice, is even higher – and the equipment which contributes to this is often more niche. This can make it feel like more of a challenge for dental practices to cut down and become more energy efficient. However, technological developments mean that even specialist equipment is becoming more eco-friendly, while still maintaining high performance standards.[iv]

Environmental impact of the dental practice

The equipment which uses the most energy in the dental practice tends to be dental chairs, dental compressors and autoclaves.[v] This is in addition to the essential energy uses involved in running any business including heating/cooling systems, powering computers, and lighting. Any equipment which contributes to the comfort of patients and staff, the sterilisation of equipment, and the outcomes of any dental treatment should not be compromised. However, there are a number of changes dental practices might make to boost their energy efficiency while maintaining excellent standards of care.v

Research suggests that just one dental consultation could have a significant environmental impact. Single use clothing and packaging, cleaning materials, waste water, and electricity all contribute to the environmental footprint in a single dental examination.iv Because of this, dental practices should consider adjustments they could make to use more sustainable alternatives, and therefore reduce their environmental impact, while still maintaining the highest standards of care.

Energy saving solutions in practice

It is recommended that dental practices implement energy saving strategies to help them cut down their usage and make greener choices. Firstly, it is important to consider the impact of day-to-day energy usage. Things like lighting and heating can usually be much more efficient, by simply turning them off in the evening and over the weekend. Similarly, practice staff should switch off any appliances when they are not in use, so that electricity is not being unnecessarily used in the background.v

More specific to dental practices however, is the effect that investing in more energy efficient equipment can have on their environmental impact. This is particularly useful in busier dental practices where systems are in constant use. Replace equipment with energy efficient alternatives where possible – especially those which are used regularly and are central to the day-to-day running of the practice. Ensuring these are as energy efficient as possible will dramatically reduce your dental practice’s environmental impact.v

Importance of maintaining high standards of sterilisation

Cleanliness is vital for the safe running of any dental practice. Each practice will be familiar with the need to maintain excellent hygiene standards by sterilising instruments, hand washing, and cleaning surfaces. Sterilisation is a regimented process which must be routinely followed and documented to ensure standards are met and the practice is kept safe.[vi] It is important to create a logical and repeatable process featuring a dirty to clean workflow, ideally separate from treatment areas, to avoid cross-contamination.[vii]

So, dental practices must ensure high standards of sterilisation, and guarantee that their instruments are completely sterile and ready for use, by using the correct steriliser. Some models can require lots of water and energy to run each day,[viii] so it is important to choose an autoclave which is energy efficient and highly functional for the best outcomes.

The Lisa is the high-end B-type steriliser from W&H which provides dental practices with the ability to ensure excellent sterilisation while keeping energy use to a minimum. Thanks to its patented Eco Dry+ technology, the Lisa steriliser automatically adjusts the drying time based on the size of the load, minimising energy usage. This also has the added benefit of increasing the lifespan of your instruments. In addition, the Lisa steriliser will also arrive in environmentally friendly packaging, which is entirely reusable and recyclable – made out of cardboard and other fully biodegradable materials.

Reducing your carbon footprint in every area of life is important, including in the workplace. If you are able to make positive changes both at home and at work to reduce the amount of energy you use, you will reduce your own impact on the environment. With simple adjustments including turning off appliances when not in use, switching off lights at the end of the day, and investing in more energy efficient appliances where possible, you and your practice could make a big difference and benefit from the savings.

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[iv] Borglin, Linnea, et al. “The life cycle analysis of a dental examination: Quantifying the environmental burden of an examination in a hypothetical dental practice.” Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology 49.6 (2021): 581-593.


[vi] Laneve, Enrica, et al. “Sterilisation in dentistry: a review of the literature.” International journal of dentistry 2019 (2019).

[vii] Jakubovics, N., M. Greenwood, and J. G. Meechan. “General medicine and surgery for dental practitioners: part 4. Infections and infection control.” British Dental Journal 217.2 (2014): 73-77.


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