The environmental consequences of oral healthcare provision by the dental team
This data supports the publication in the Journal of Dentistry, January 2024.
Article Title: The environmental consequences of oral healthcare provision by the dental team
To undertake a comparative ecological impact (Total lifetime carbon footprint and single use plastics (SUP) waste generation) derived from the provision of professional oral healthcare (Dentists and hygienist) to five different patient categories up to the age of 50 years, representative of different levels of progressive dental disease and treatment experience.
CO2e and SUP waste generated was calculated for five patient categories with common preventable diseases; that are representative of different levels of progressive dental disease and treatment experience. The assessment is based on the average restorative care levels for 50-year-olds in the UK. The number of appointments for each procedure was calculated using current evidence-based guidelines. The total lifetime carbon and the SUP waste analysis was calculated using published peer-reviewed data.
The total carbon footprint follows a progression with low impacts for individual persons with very low disease and treatment experience (285 KgCO2e), escalating to very high impacts (approximately 2,170 KgCO2e) for people with high levels of disease and treatment experience. SUP waste follows a similar linear rise across the different cohorts of dental experience over a lifetime (6-50 years), from 1382 items and 4.6 Kg for patients in a the very low dental experience, to 12,200 items and 33.8Kg for patients in the cohort of very high dental experience.
The provision of all oral healthcare carries an environmental impact in the form of carbon footprint and SUP waste. The cumulative lifetime environmental impact of oral healthcare is proportional to the disease and treatment experience of the individual person for these preventable diseases; with a x8 difference between the two extremes of experience.
All forms of oral healthcare have an environmental impact.
The most effective way to mitigate these impacts is through the promotion and provision of effective evidence-based preventive oral healthcare.
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