FDI launches consensus statement on sustainable oral healthcare

sustainable oral health care
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FDI World Dental Federation has recently launched its inaugural Consensus Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Oral Healthcare, aimed at moving the oral healthcare sector towards more environmentally friendly practices that ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of the profession.

The Consensus Statement was released at a special summit organised by FDI that brought together a diverse range of influential stakeholders, including leading figures from industry as well as health professionals, academic experts, legislative authorities, and dental associations.

“It will come as a surprise to many people that the healthcare sector is responsible for around five per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, of which oral healthcare is an important contributor,” said FDI president Professor Ihsane Ben Yahya.

“The dental industry has a collective responsibility to reduce its environmental impact and [the] Consensus Statement is the first major step to achieving that. The Consensus Statement reflects the growing recognition within the oral healthcare community that we must strive to improve oral health in a sustainable manner in compliance with UN targets. Healthier mouths mean a healthier planet.”

Oral healthcare contributes to the environmental burden through air pollution arising from the release of CO2 associated with travel and transport, incineration of waste, lack of recyclable packaging, the greenhouse gas impact of anaesthetic gases such as nitrous oxide, and the high consumption of water. 

The Consensus Statement identifies the complex drivers that underpin current behaviours and practices and recommends remediation strategies based on the 4 Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse and Rethink.

While highlighting some of the unavoidable environmental impacts linked to providing accessible dental check-ups and treatments to facilitate good oral health and reduce inequalities in healthcare, it also makes the case for minimising ‘avoidable’ oral healthcare, arguing that it is best achieved through both the delivery and maintenance of good oral healthcare, focused on prevention with the promotion of good oral hygiene, healthy low-sugar diets, and avoidance of tobacco.

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