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Single use items in dentistry

6th September 2019

An interesting subject come up in conversation earlier this week so i took some time to research a little deeper. After searching the internet i was surprised to see how many articles have been written about The effect of single use items in dentistry. Plastic does not biodegrade; it only breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics having an effect on the environment.

I have done some research and found the following statistics below:

UK Regulations 2013 move dental practitioners away from reusable syringes towards disposable syringe-needle combinations, the rationale being to reduce the number of needle-stick injuries and hence a burden of disease, injury, and permanent or temporary impairment or handicap. Assuming hypothetical figures of 10,000 dentists administering five local anaesthetics a day over a working year of 200 days, this amounts to 1,000,000 plastic syringes added to the plastic waste for disposal.

HTM 01-05 and other legislation introduced sealable pouches for most dental instruments. Although the need to pouch has since been reduced, again assuming 10,000 dentists using, say, 20 pouches a day, there will be in excess of 4,000,000 plastic sleeves, headrest covers and instrument pouches (most have plastic windows) to be disposed of annually, probably a conservative estimate.

I think its safe to say there is a lot of unneeded plastic used in dentistry that could be reduced with a more environmentally friendly alternative.

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