The FDI World Dental Federation has launched an inaugural Consensus Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Oral Healthcare (the Statement) which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the dental profession by moving the sector towards more environmentally friendly practices.
Released at a special summit convened by FDI that brought together leading industry figures, health professionals, academic experts, legislative authorities, and dental associations, the Statement addresses what FDI President Prof. Ihsane Ben Yahya and dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, Mohammed VI University of Health Sciences, Casablanca, Morocco calls the “significant environmental impact” of the healthcare sector.
Acknowledging that the dental community has a collective responsibility to address this impact, the President noted that “It will come as a surprise to many people that the healthcare sector is responsible for around five per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, of which oral healthcare is an important contributor.”
“The Consensus Statement reflects the growing recognition within the oral healthcare community that we must strive to improve oral health in a sustainable manner in compliance with UN targets. Healthier mouths mean a healthier planet.”
Identifying the way in which oral healthcare contributes to the environmental issues affecting the planet such increased CO2 emissions from travel and transport, waste incineration, water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and lack of recyclable packaging, the Statement identifies the complex drivers that underpin current behaviours and practices and recommends remediation strategies based on the 4 Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and Rethink.
It also makes the case for minimising “avoidable” oral healthcare, arguing that it is best achieved through both the delivery and maintenance of good oral healthcare, focused on prevention with the promotion of good oral hygiene, healthy low-sugar diets, and avoidance of tobacco.
“Prevention is better than cure and it is the most impactful and practical way of reducing the need for clinical interventions and associated environmental impacts,” said Prof. Nicolas Martin, Chair of the FDI Sustainability in Dentistry Task Team and Clinical Professor in Restorative Dentistry in the School of Clinical Dentistry at the University of Sheffield in the UK.
“When treatment is required, oral healthcare should focus on the provision of durable fillings, using high-quality products and materials that will last longer and/or require fewer replacements.”
The Consensus Statement is supported by a concise commentary Sustainable Oral Healthcare – A Joint Stakeholder Approach published in the International Dental Journal.