Greening’ dentistry in the face of COP 28

Greening’ dentistry in the face of COP 28

By: Assoc. Prof. Dr. Lim Ghee Seong

In the world of dentistry, the conversation around our role in environmental sustainability and climate change has gained significant traction in recent years. As dental academicians, practitioners, and clinicians, our responsibilities extend beyond the confines of oral health to the broader areas of ecological well-being. With COP 28 unfolding now in Dubai UAE, it prompts us to reflect on our contributions and the impact of global initiatives like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The dental profession, often not in the spotlight of environmental discussions, has a distinctive ecological footprint. From the disposal of single-use plastics to the energy-intensive nature of dental equipment, our practices can either contribute to environmental degradation or be a catalyst for change. As the guardians of oral health, it is important for us to recognize the interconnectedness of planetary health and human well-being.

In recent COP meetings, there has been a growing acknowledgment of the need for a holistic approach to healthcare, one that integrates environmental sustainability into its core. The healthcare sector, including dentistry, has been identified as a contributor to carbon emissions and waste generation. Thus, the imperative to redefine our practices, adopting eco-friendly materials, and minimizing waste has become increasingly apparent.

While COP meetings have seen spirited discussions and commitments to mitigate climate change, the translation of global policies into tangible outcomes often faces complexities. The scale of the climate crisis demands unprecedented cooperation and action from all sectors, including healthcare. It is here that dental academicians and practitioners play a pivotal role.

Our first task is fostering awareness within our professional community. Educating dental students about the environmental impact of dental practices instills a sense of responsibility from the outset. Integrating eco-friendly alternatives into dental education ensures that future practitioners are well-equipped to navigate the evolving landscape of sustainable dentistry.

In our roles as clinicians, the choices we make daily reverberate through the broader environmental spectrum. Opting for renewable energy sources, reducing water consumption, and implementing waste management strategies are tangible steps that contribute to a greener dental practice. Moreover, advocating for and adopting eco-friendly dental materials can significantly minimize the carbon footprint of our profession.

In the quest for sustainable dentistry, collaboration is highly important. Engaging with dental associations, research institutions, and policymakers allows us to influence systemic changes. By contributing our expertise to interdisciplinary dialogues on climate action, we position dentistry as an integral part of the solution, rather than a bystander.

The journey towards sustainable dentistry is undoubtedly a marathon, not a sprint. Progress may seem incremental, but the cumulative effect of individual and collective efforts can be transformative. COP meetings serve as a forum for global collaboration and policy formulation, but their impact hinges on the actions taken at regional, national, and local levels.

With COP 28 happening now, it is an opportune moment for the dental community to take stock of the strides made and the road ahead. Embracing sustainability in dentistry is not just an environmental obligation; it is an investment in the well-being of future generations. Our profession has the potential to be a beacon of change, showcasing that responsible healthcare practices can coexist with a healthier planet.

In conclusion, while the outcomes of COP meetings are integral to shaping international climate policies, the onus is on us, dental academicians, practitioners, and clinicians, to translate global intentions into concrete actions. The combination of individual commitment, institutional changes, and advocacy can propel dentistry towards a greener, more sustainable future.

The author is an Associate Professor at the Department of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya, and may be reached at [email protected]


Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus (0 )