tmkqih · 2021-03-17

Dental hygienist uses green ideas to keep teeth white

Most people probably don’t consider the environment when deciding where to get their teeth cleaned, but one local business aims to protect your mouth and the planet.

Middletown Dental Hygiene, operated by registered dental hygienist Nancy Johnston, features everything from environmentally-friendly paint and flooring to reusable tools and towels.

“I’m just trying to make a healthier community,” Ms Johnston said.

When starting the business, Ms Johnston said she did a lot of research into environmentally-sensitive dentistry. She found the Eco Dentistry Association, a group dedicated to the cause and is now a member.

Creating a green business started with the creation of the workspace, as Middletown features low-voltage lighting, Marmoleum flooring and paint that’s low in volatile organic compounds.

Marmoleum is a type of linoleum with a number of environmental advantages, including the fact it is made from renewable materials.

Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gasses from some solids and liquids and can lead to the formation of smog.

It’s in the day-to-day operation of Middletown Dental Hygiene where most of the environmental practices are found.

“I really looked into reducing disposables,” Ms Johnston said.

Instead of the disposable cups and paper bibs used at many dental offices, Middletown uses glass cups and towels made from bamboo and cotton.

Bamboo has the added environmental benefit of being a quick-growing plant, meaning it is more sustainable if grown properly.

The towels Ms Johnston uses are homemade and she aims to launch her own line of products for the dental industry.

Other reusable items in the Middletown office include the stainless steel tips used on some of the dental equipment, such as the saliva ejectors. While many dental offices use disposable plastic tips for these items, Ms Johnston sterilizes the steel tips after each use.

To do the sterilization, she uses a steam autoclave, which uses distilled water and no chemicals.

She also reduces chemicals use by using a digital x-ray machine. Traditional X-ray machines require chemicals to develop the prints. Also, the digital X-ray machine exposes clients to about 80 per cent less radiation than traditional X-rays, she said.

“I’m really trying to raise awareness (of environmental issues),” Ms Johnston said. “I want people to be healthy. I want my children to have a healthy world.”

For cleaning equipment, Middletown uses an eco-friendly line of dental disinfectants produced by a Canadian company called Micrylium.

While making Middletown environmentally-friendly meant more up-front costs, the business can save money over time by not buying so many disposable items, she said.

“I think the biggest commitment is time,” she said, noting cleaning and sterilizing the reusable items takes longer than tossing away disposables.

Response to Middletown’s green initiatives is positive, Ms Johnston said, noting some clients visit her specifically because of the business’ environmental practices.