Dental Hygreen: Practice random acts of greenness

April 24, 2009
Offer practical tips to patients on how home care routines can be "green"

by Lauri Algatt, RDH, LEED, AP

Water — humans cannot survive without it. As hygienists, we would have a tough clinical day without it. One of our big environmental concerns today is the conservation and quality of the world's water supply.

• 340 billion gallons of fresh water are withdrawn per day from rivers, streams, and reservoirs to support residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, and recreational activities.

• Almost 65% of the water taken is discharged back to bodies of water after use.

• The annual water deficiency for the U.S. is 3,700 billion gallons.

• Water consumption rose six-fold in the last century — double the rate of our population.

• Currently, there are approximately 1.1 billion people worldwide, and one out of every six people live without clean drinking water. (

Many water conservation strategies involve no additional cost or rapid paybacks. For example, there is a simple strategy you can implement chairside, while giving your OHI.

Remind your patients to please turn off the water while brushing their teeth. They should only use enough water to moisten their toothbrush and fill a cup of water to rinse with after brushing.

They may ask you why. Tell them that studies show that on average people can waste 90 glasses of clean water a day if they run the water while brushing their teeth. This equals 27 billion glasses of water a day that go "down the drain" in the United States alone.

Prevention and conservation in one easy step! How easy is that?

Other water conservation methods to consider in your office:

• Install low-flow toilets and faucets with sensors. (At a minimum, make sure existing fixtures do not leak.)

• Use medical grade hand sanitizer dispensers for hand washing in operatories. Studies show this to be more efficient at killing bacteria and viruses than hand washing with soap and water.

• Use DryVacuum systems, which can save up to 1,200 gallons of water per day per practice.

• Install digital radiography.

Practicing random acts of greenness in your office will benefit the environment and keep your patients impressed by your innovations and concern.

Lauri Algatt, RDH, LEED AP, graduated with a degree in Dental Hygiene from Harcum College, Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She is currently working as a registered Dental Hygienist in Georgia and holds licenses in Florida, South Carolina and Pennsylvania and has worked in General Dentistry for 7 years. In addition, Lauri has worked in the construction field for the past 20 years in both Project Management and General Contractor capacities and holds a degree in Construction Management. As an Owner's Representative, she recently completed a 27,000 square foot women's healthcare center that is seeking a LEED Silver certification. Combining her knowledge in both the construction and dental world with her green building experience, Lauri started to provide green consulting services to the dental and health care field. She can be contacted via email at [email protected].