This paper introduces clinicians to sustainability as it relates to dentistry. There are seven papers in the series. These include this introduction, followed by papers on energy, procurement, travel, waste, biodiversity and engagement and embedding sustainability into current dental practice. A sustainable world aims to ensure the basic needs and quality of life of everyone are met, now and for future generations. The current delivery of healthcare in the modern world is not sustainable due to rising financial costs, increasing demands and a high environmental burden. Dentists, like their medical counterparts, need to consider the General Dental Council (GDC) standards and the relationship between planetary health and human health within their practice. There is increasing awareness of the problems associated with global warming but a lack of knowledge on how to become more environmentally sustainable. There are also financial and reputational benefits to becoming more sustainable for practices. The carbon footprint is one proxy of sustainability and is closely related to expenditure. In 2014-2015, the carbon footprint of dentistry was calculated to be 675 kilotonnes carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) with 64.5% related to travel, 15.3% from energy and 19% from procurement. The GDC should consider incorporating sustainability education into the undergraduate framework in line with student demands and similar moves by the General Medical Council.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $20.79 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Sustainable Development Unit. Sustainable Development Strategy for the Health and Social Care System 2014-2020. Available at https: //www.sduhealth.org.uk/policy-strategy/engagement-resources.aspx (accessed January 2019).
Horton R. Offline: Planetary health's next frontierbiodiversity. Lancet 2017; 390: 2132.
The General Dental Council. Standards for the Dental Team. Online information available at https: //www.gdc-uk.org/api/files/NEW%20Standards%20for%20the%20Dental%20Team.pdf (accessed January 2019).
The Rockefeller Foundation/The Lancet. Planetary Health: the health of human civilisation and the natural system on which it depends. Available at http: //www.thelancet.com/pb/assets/raw/Lancet/infographics/planetary-health/planetary-health.pdf (accessed January 2019).
United Nations. UN Conference on Environment and Development. Available at http: //www.un.org/geninfo/bp/enviro.html (accessed January 2019).
United Nations Climate Change. Kyoto Protocol: Targets for the first commitment period. Available at (accessed January 2019).
Stern N H. The Economics of Climate Change: The Stern Review. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007.
European Commission. EU climate action. Available at https: //ec.europa.eu/clima/citizens/eu_en#tab00 (accessed January 2019).
Legislation.Gov. Climate Change Act 2008. Available at https: //www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents (accessed January 2019).
United Nations Climate Change. The Paris Agreement. Available at (accessed January 2019).
IPCC. Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 ºC. Available at (accessed January 2019).
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. UK's Carbon Footprint 1997-2015. Available at https: //assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/704607/Consumption_emissions_May18.pdf (accessed January 2019).
Malik A, Lensen M, McAlister S, McGain F. The carbon footprint of Australian health care. Lancet Planet Health 2018; 2: e27-e35.
Eckelman M J, Sherman J. Environmental Impacts of the US Health Care System and Effects on Public Health. PLoS One 2016; 11: e0157014.
Eckelman M J, Sherman J. Estimated Global Disease Burden from United States Health Care Sector Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Am J Public Health 2017; 107 (Spec Iss): S120-S122.
Yale School of Public Health. Healthcare Sustainability and Public Health. Available at https: //publichealth.yale.edu/climate/curricula/hospital_workshop.aspx (accessed January 2019).
Duane B, Berners Lee M, White S, Stancliffe R, Steinbach I. An estimated carbon footprint of NHS primary dental care within England. How can dentistry be more environmentally sustainable? Br Dent J 2017; 223: 589-593.
Sustainable Development Unit. NHS carbon footprint. Available at https: //www.sduhealth.org.uk/policy-strategy/reporting/nhscarbonfootprint.aspx (accessed January 2019).
Sustainable Development Unit. Health Outcomes of Travel Tool (HOTT). Available at https: //www.sduhealth.org.uk/delivery/measure/healthoutcomestravel-tool.aspx (accessed January 2019).
Sustainable Development Unit. Available at https: //www.sduhealth.org.uk/ (accessed January 2019).
Duane B, Hyland J, Rowan J S, Archibald B. Taking a bite out of Scotland's dental carbon emissions in the transition to a low carbon future. Public Health 2012; 126: 770-777.
Public Health England. Carbon modelling within dentistry: towards a sustainable future. Available at . (accessed January 2019).
Mulimani P. Green dentistry: the art and science of sustainable practice. 2017; 222: 954-961.
Grose J, Richardson J, Mills I, Moles D, Nasser M. Exploring attitudes and knowledge of climate change and sustainability in a dental practice: a feasibility study into resource management. Br Dent J 2016; 220: 187-191.
Richardson J, , et al. What's in a bin: a case study of dental clinical waste composition and potential greenhouse gas emission savings. Br Dent J 2016; 220: 61-66.
National Health Service. Standard Contract 2017/19. Available at https: //www.england.nhs.uk/nhsstandardcontract/201719update-may/ (accessed January 2019).
Nielsen. The sustainability imperative. Available at https: //www.nielsen.com/uk/en/insights/reports/2015/thesustainabilityimperative.html (accessed January 2019).
Unilever. Report shows a third of consumers prefer sustainable brands. Available at (accessed January 2019).
Carrington D. Melting Arctic ice cap falls to well below average. The Guardian (London) 2017 September 20.
Resource. The Attenborough Effect: searches plastic recycling rocket after Blue Planet II. Available at (accessed January 2019).
Ramasubbu D, Harford S, Duane B, Mortimer F. Green Dentistry in 2018? Dent Update 2019; 46: 184: In press.
IPCC. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
Climate Change Connection. CO2 equivalents. Available at https: //climatechangeconnection.org/emissions/co2-equivalents/ (accessed January 2019).
Time for change. What is a carbon footprint definition. Online information available at https: //timeforchange.org/whatisacarbonfootprint-definition (accessed January 2019).
Norwegian School of Economics. A carbon footprint proportional to expenditure a case for Norway? Available at (accessed January 2019).
General Dental Council. Preparing for Practice. Online information available at https: //www.gdc-uk.org/api/files/Preparing%20for%20Practice%20(revised%202015).pdf (accessed January 2019).
Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. Educating for Sustainable Healthcare Priority Learning Outcomes. Available at https: //sustainablehealthcare.org.uk/prioritylearningoutcomes (accessed January 2019).
Thompson T, Walpole S, Braithwaite I, Inman A, Barna S, Mortimer FLearning objectives for sustainable health care. Lancet 2014; 384: 1924-1925.
Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. Sustainable Healthcare Education. Available at https: //networks.sustainablehealthcare.org.uk/network/sustainablehealthcareeducation (accessed January 2019).
Duane B, Harford S, Steinbach I et al. Sustainable dentistry energy use within the dental practice. Br Dent J 2019; In press.
Duane B, Ramasubbu D, Harford S et al. Sustainability and procurement (what we buy) within the dental practice. Br Dent J 2019; In press.
Duane B, Steinbach I, Ramasubbu D et al. Sustainability and travel within the dental practice. Br Dent J 2019; In press.
Duane B, Ramasubbu D, Harford S et al. Sustainability and waste within the dental practice. Br Dent J 2019; In press.
Duane B, Ramasubbu D, Harford S et al. Sustainability and biodiversity within the dental practice. Br Dent J 2019; In press.
Duane B, Croasdale K, Ramasubbu D et al. Measuring and embedding sustainable practice into the dental practice. Br Dent J 2019; In press.
About this article
Cite this article
Duane, B., Harford, S., Ramasubbu, D. et al. Environmentally sustainable dentistry: a brief introduction to sustainable concepts within the dental practice. Br Dent J 226, 292–295 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41415-019-0010-7
- Highlights how sustainability ensures the basic needs and quality of life of everyone are met
- now and for future generations.
- Describes why sustainability in dentistry needs to be considered for planetary health
- personal health
- financial health and practice reputation.
- Suggests there is a lack of awareness in the dental team on how to become more sustainable.
Journal of Dental Research (2020)
RSC Advances (2020)
Synthesis of Vanillin-Based Polyimine Vitrimers with Excellent Reprocessability, Fast Chemical Degradability, and Adhesion
ACS Applied Polymer Materials (2020)
British Dental Journal (2019)
Special Care in Dentistry (2019)