The Case for Green Dentistry
by Ina Pockrass with The Eco-Dentistry Association
In 2003, long before "An Inconvenient Truth" launched a national conversation about the urgent need to mediate our impact on the Earth, the Transcendentist® office, a single doctor, scratch dental practice in Berkeley, California set out to create a model for eco-friendly dental practice. The dynamic team of Dr. Fred Pockrass, DDS and his wife Ina Pockrass, eco-entrepreneur and green consumer expert, believed that green dentistry was not only good for the planet, but a powerful market differentiator, a magnet for high-quality patients, and a boost for the bottom line. They were right. Today, their Berkeley practice is buzzing with loyal patients, seeing an average of thirty new clients a month with virtually no traditional marketing, and producing revenue in the top 5% of dental practices.
In birthing the award-winning Transcendentist® office, the Pockrass' examined every choice with an environmental and wellness lens. The result was the model for green dentistry, which they have tested and refined in real time in a real dental practice. While Berkeley seemed a natural location for such a practice, as the Pockrass team expected, in the last two years, green dentistry has been catching on worldwide. And the dental industry has responded with a plethora of new green dental products, like LED operatory lights that use less energy and give dentists truer color shade readings, waterless vacuum systems that save practices as much as 360 gallons of water a day, and compostable suction tips.
With an Advisory Board of highly-respected members across the profession, the Pockrass' moved beyond their own office and recently co-founded The Eco-Dentistry Association (www.ecodentistry.org) to provide a consistent set of green dentistry standards, best practices and resources for dentists and the industry, and to educate consumers about the benefits of eco-friendly choices for their dental health. The EDA defines green dentistry as: (1) reducing waste and pollution, (2) conserving water, energy and money, (3) integrating a wellness approach, and (4) incorporating high-tech solutions. The EDA has since created a simple checklist and comprehensive certification program, called GreenDOC, which guides dentists in taking their eco-friendly measures beyond recycled paper and fluorescent bulbs to realizing all of the benefits of operating a truly green practice.
Benefits? Yes, benefits! Contrary to popular perception, eco-friendly choices are more beneficial to the bottom line than wasteful and polluting alternatives. The EDA commissioned a study by Natural Logic Sustainability Consulting Group that concluded that going green can actually improve the practice bottom line by $50,000 a year, a significant sum in any economic climate. Simple choices like switching to re-usable cloth infection control methods instead of disposables alone account for savings of over $2300 per year, enough to finance a nice vacation for the doctor. One EDA member reports a 30% reduction in dental supply expenses over last year, and attributes this savings to his transition from consumables to re-usables like stainless steel impression trays.
And overhead savings are just the beginning. Green dental offices are tapping into a growing market of consumers, nearly 100 million in the US, who seek businesses and service providers that share their eco-friendly values. When it comes to dentistry, these patients often struggle to find an eco-friendly choice. By reaching out to this powerful market of consumers, green dentists all across the country are tapping into a ready stream of new patients who both value preventive health and love to refer their family and friends. According to Ina Pockrass, magnetizing the green dental consumer is the secret to recession-proofing a practice. Not only has the Transcendentist® office enjoyed a steady growth in revenues every year, but in the economically dismal first quarter of 2009, the office increased revenue by 15% over the same quarter in 2008. Other EDA members report a similar uptick in revenue.
While only established a year ago, the EDA already has close to 400 members in 42 states and 11 countries. The organization provides everything practitioners need to go green without re-inventing the wheel, from educational resources to accessible green dentistry standards. In fact, many high-tech and cosmetic practices, which use digital imaging and patient charting, are already greener they think. So whether you are looking to increase new patient flow, enhance your bottom line, or stand out from the crowd, authentically positioning yourself as a green dental practice can yield outstanding rewards.
To learn more about how green dentistry can benefit your practice, please join Ina Pockrass, co-creator of the green dentistry model and co-founder of The Eco-Dentistry Association on January 14th at 6:00 pm CST, when she presents "The Case for Green Dentistry". Click Here to Sign up Today!