The Benefits of Using Biodegradable Dental Materials

The Benefits of Using Biodegradable Dental Materials

ByGroovy Green Jun 6, 2024

The Benefits of Using Biodegradable Dental Materials 

It is a known fact that dental practices produce a large amount of waste, much of which is not environmentally friendly.

However, in recent times growing awareness about climate change and environmental pollution has led to increased calls for eco-friendly or “green” dentistry.

A great way to heed this call, which is gaining momentum each day, is by using biodegradable dental materials. This will reduce the environmental impact of your practice as a dentist to a large extent. It will also enhance your appeal to environmentally-conscious patients.

Without mincing words, using biodegradable products is one of the easiest and most impactful steps Dental O So Gentle takes towards sustainability in dentistry.  However, some people may struggle to grasp the necessity of biodegradable dental materials.

Is it really important? Are there any benefits or positive outcomes to be derived from it? How do you build and maintain an interest in this eco-friendly initiative?

We shall discuss the answers to these necessary questions in this article.

Let’s start by addressing the front-burner question – What are biodegradable materials in dentistry?

What are Biodegradable Dental Materials? 

I won’t judge you if you are scratching your head at the term, biodegradable dental materials. There are so many others in your shoes. But I promise, it has a very simple meaning. Let me explain.

Biodegradable dental materials are products used in dental practices and procedures that are designed to break down naturally and safely over time when discarded into the environment. Easy-peasy, right?

So, here is the deal. Most traditional dental materials are made from synthetic plastics or other non-biodegradable components. However, biodegradable alternatives are obtained from renewable plant-based sources.

They are also made from biocompatible materials that can degrade through biological processes.

To provide some much-needed clarity, here are some examples of biodegradable dental products:

– Composite fillings made from plant-based resins.

– Sutures and membranes formed from natural polymers.

– Bioceramic materials like calcium phosphates are used for implants, fillings, bone grafts, etc.

Are There Any Environmental Benefits of Using Eco-Friendly Dental Alternatives?

I am positive you have a succinct understanding of what biodegradable dental materials entail. Now, what environmental benefits does it hold in general? Or, wait… Are there any benefits at all?

There certainly are!

Adopting biodegradable dental materials is one of the primary ways dental offices can reduce their environmental impact and contribute to sustainability efforts.

To help you better appreciate the benefits of switching to eco-friendly products, I want you to look at the grim effects of the dental profession on the environment.

Studies estimate that each year, dental practices generate;

  • 7 tons of mercury waste
  • 7 billion sterilization pouches
  • 680 million light handle covers, patient bibs, and chair barriers
  • 28 million liters of toxic X-ray fixer
  • 8 million foils

Wild, right? I know!

This is why transitioning to biodegradable alternatives for common disposable items like sutures, barriers, and fillings isn’t even a debatable subject. This way dental offices can cut down on the volumes of plastic waste and toxic chemical solutions that are released into the environment each year.

How Can You Be More Environmentally Friendly?

We have concluded that using biodegradable dental materials is critical in operating a green dental practice. However, there are many other steps you can take as a dentist to improve sustainability.

I have highlighted a few ways below:

– Install energy-efficient lighting, heating, and cooling systems to reduce electricity consumption

– Practice proper recycling for items like paper, plastics, aluminum, etc.

– Install low-flow faucet aerators and other fixtures to reduce water usage

– Use non-toxic cleaning and disinfecting products

How to Incorporate Biodegradable Dental Materials

It is one thing to be oblivious to the negative impacts of our actions. It is another thing entirely to be aware but nonchalant about change.

If you’re a dentist reading this and you are open to using more eco-friendly materials in your practice, you may likely need to update some of your suppliers and product lines.

To get started, have an open discussion with your current suppliers about their available sustainable options. Then you will need to conduct an audit of your existing inventory.

This audit will uncover areas where you can make easy changes to biodegradable alternatives.

I must add that being eco-friendly doesn’t stop at your dental products. You may also want to bear it in mind when deciding on your choice of dental chair, cabinetry, flooring, and other equipment during your next office renovation or upgrade.

Benefits of Using Biodegradable Dental Materials 

Apart from the obvious benefit of reducing your ecological footprint, using biodegradable dental materials has other fantastic benefits.

I know you are pretty curious.


  • A lot of modern dental materials exceed the strength, durability, and longevity of their traditional alternatives.
  • To add to that, natural composite fillings can achieve superior aesthetic results compared to amalgam
  • Biodegradable products also remove any concerns over toxicity exposure risks to staff and patients during procedures
  • As a bonus, you can enhance your market positioning to attract environmentally-conscious patients

How You Can Contribute as a Patient

At the onset of this article, I mentioned that there have been increased calls for eco-friendly dentistry in recent times. Well, this doesn’t only fall on the laps of dentists.  As a dental patient, you too can support this shift.

The urgent question to ask yourself now is: how can I join global efforts?

You can start by getting more informed.

  • Ask your dentist about the environmentally sustainable materials they use.
  • Let them know about your preference for biodegradable options like composite fillings over amalgam when restorative treatments are needed
  • If you are one for cosmetic procedures, avoid those that rely heavily on disposable plastic products when there are effective alternatives.
  • You also need to make sure you choose a dental office that prioritizes sustainability as a core value.

Remember, your choices as a consumer create demand signals that influence which products dental practices will adopt and supply. So, choose wisely!

Are Eco-Friendly Dental Materials as Effective?

Concerns have been raised in some quarters about the ability of biodegradable dental materials to effectively perform and meet the same rigorous quality standards of traditional products.

Will a plant-based composite filling be as durable as amalgam? Can a biodegradable bone graft material properly integrate and promote healing? These are just a few of several pertinent questions.

And the answer to those concerns is a big Yes!

Extensive scientific research has shown that modern sustainable dental materials are just as effective as their traditional alternatives.

Last Words

Shifting towards environmentally sustainable practices is a shared responsibility. Dentists, manufacturers, suppliers, and patients must come together to adopt eco-friendly biodegradable alternatives that keep our planet healthy while providing quality oral care.

Through simple but impactful decisions like using biodegradable dental materials, we can help preserve natural resources and ecosystems for a more sustainable future.