Episode 42 – Green Dentistry is Something to Smile About

December 1, 2011

In Episode 42 of The Wendel Forum (originally aired on Green 960 AM radio on November 26, 2011), show host Dick Lyons talks with Dr.  Fred and Ina Pockrass, a husband and wife team who are national leaders in the field of green dentistry.  Fred has been a restorative and general dentist for more than 31 years, and Ina is a branding and marketing expert who previously practiced intellectual property law for 18 years.  Together they are founders of Transcedentist, a dental office in Berkeley, California.  In addition, they are co-founders of the Eco-Dentistry Association, which formed in 2008 to support the greening of the dental industry.  

Ina & Fred Pockrass photo

Dr. Fred and Ina Pockrass of Transcedentist and the Eco-Dentistry Association

Fred and Ina’s mission since 2002 has been to create a dental office that’s easier on the planet, as well as the patients who visit it.  They built their Berkeley office with an environmental lens, taking a close look at the environmental impacts created by the facility and the practice.  “Back when ‘green’ was still a color,” they made a point to build their office with materials that had lower environmental impact, including floor finishes, low-VOC paint, etc.

Beyond the facility construction, Fred and Ina realized that they could do a lot more to green the delivery of dental services. They moved away from traditional x-ray equipment and invested in digital x-ray machines.  Patient barriers, sterilization pouches, and vacuum systems all create additional impacts on the environment.  There have been a number of improvements in recent years that offer safer and less wasteful alternatives.  Fred and Ina were early adopters and have been encouraging their peers to follow suit.

It may seem like these types of changes in one dental office would have a small overall impact on our environment.  But consider the collective impact of the 122,000 dental offices in the United States.  This is an industry ripe for change.   The Eco-Dentistry Association’s mission is to promote the use of these newer technologies and methods across the industry.  The organization promotes a number of educational programs, as well as a standards certification label for dental products that meet certain criteria.  

EDA Accepted Seal

EDA Accepted Seal

By overcoming misconceptions about the costs and obstacles to greening a dental office, the group hopes to help dentists around the world lessen their environmental impacts.  And with 700 members in the United States, Canada and 12 other countries, their reach is growing.    Who knew the movement would be so popular in places like Brazil and India?

For patients who love their current dentist but aren’t sure how green his or her practice is, the association has designed a “Green My Dentist” campaign.  Patients can download a letter from the Eco-Dentistry Association website to send it to their dentist in order to encourage them to address a few key areas of environmental impact. 

We think green dentistry is something to smile about.

Post Links:

Interview with Fred and Ina Pockrass: Episode 42 of The Wendel Forum (27:47 mins; mp3)

Transcendentist website: www.transcendentist.com

EcoDentistry Association website: www.ecodentistry.org

Green My Dentist campaign webpage: http://www.ecodentistry.org/?page=GreenMyDentist

Green 960 AM radio website: http://www.green960.com/main.html

Dick Lyons website profile: http://www.wendel.com/rlyons

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