Article: Volume 48 Number 6 Page 493 - June 2021

  Dent Update 2021; 48: 493-501  Read article

Sustainability/Oral Health:  Sustainable oral healthcare and the environment: challenges

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Abstract: Oral healthcare has an environmental impact that is specific to the profession and is currently unsustainable. This impact results in unwanted and difficult-to-manage waste, carbon emissions and other environmental impacts that contribute to climate change. Contributions to this pollution come from the supply chain that provides the required materials and sundries, patient and staff commuting/ travelling, direct patient care, the use and end-of-life management of restorative materials and single-use plastics (SUPs) such as personal protective equipment (PPE). This article explores these various contributors to pollution arising from oral healthcare.

Clinical relevance: The provision of oral healthcare has an environmental impact that requires consideration and action in order to become sustainable.

Author notes: Steven Mulligan, BSc(Hons), BDS, MJDF RCS (Eng), Clinical Teacher, Doctoral Clinical Fellow, General Dental Practitioner, School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield. Lucy Smith, BEng (Hons), PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Sheffield. Nicolas Martin, BDS, PhD, PgCertEd, MFDSRCS, FDSRCS, Professor of Restorative Dentistry, School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield. email:

Objective: To understand the ways that professional activities can impact the environment and highlight ways to deliver sustainable practice in the workplace.