Go Green Dentistry

April 11, 2022 Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

At my Falmouth, Maine dental practice, we worked as an entire dental team in 2021 to identify the ways we were and could reduce waste, reduce pollution, save water, and save energy. Then, we posted our Go Green efforts on our website and social media. Our patients and community are responding well to knowing we are doing our part to reduce the impact on the environment.

Below are some ways we reduce, re-use, and recycle. By doing these, we’ve also saved money. I wouldn’t be surprised if you are doing the same in your practice. If so, our experience suggests you can publish your list of actions to boost environmental awareness and appreciation for your dental practice in your community.

Note: Although we’ve practiced most of these for many years, most patients were oblivious to the fact that these are green activities. This is just “out of sight, out of mind” typical human behavior. Also, our team collaboration on intentionally “going green” heightened every team member’s awareness, cooperation, and sense of pride.

Waste Reduction

  • We are reusing lab and shipping boxes.
  • We order our often-used items in bulk from local businesses and combine orders to cut down on shipping products needed to fulfill our orders.
  • Utilizing digital x-rays significantly reduces a patient’s exposure to radiation 60% compared to conventional films. Also, there are no hazardous processing chemicals or lead-lined plastic packaging to dispose of.
  • We recycle virtually all our paper and plastic products that have no patient contact. We do this through our community weekly recycling pick up.
  • We always use washable dishes, coffee mugs and utensils in the staff kitchen.
  • We save approximately 12,000 pieces of paper a year by using chartless software. All appointment reminders are sent by email.

Energy Conservation

  • We installed programmable thermostats.
  • We installed motion sensors and turn off power at night.

Water Conservation

  • We use a dry evacuation (waterless) vacuum system to reduce the amount of water waste. By using this type of system, we save approximately 360 gallons of water per day.
  • We turn our Water and Compressor Vacuum system off at lunch and at the end of the day.
  • We incorporated waterless hand sanitizers in addition to soap.

Pollution Prevention

  • The amalgam separator we installed keeps mercury-containing filling materials from entering our water supply. The EPA estimates that 50% of all mercury entering the local wastewater treatment facilities comes from dental offices.
  • To effectively sterilize our instruments, we use a steam sterilization system. We do not do cold sterilization that requires toxic chemicals.

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Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Myers moved to Maine in 1987 after completing a hospital residency program at Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree in biology and his dental degree were both earned at The University of Michigan. Upon first arriving in Maine, he worked for a short time as an associate dentist and opened his private practice in 1990. During the mid-90’s he associated himself with the Pankey Institute and became one of the first dentists to achieve the status of Pankey Scholar.

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May I Please Have Another Cookie?

February 18, 2020 Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

I wrote this article 20 years ago for The PankeyGram, and it is still relevant today.  

As I walked into the room, the nurse was applying medication to a hand wound my grandmother had received from a fall a week earlier. My eight-year-old son, Tim, and I had traveled a thousand miles to say goodbye to my grandmother. At 89 years of age, her body was finally ready to give in to breast cancer, and her mind had fallen victim to Alzheimer’s disease over previous several years. 

I knew she would hardly know who I was, and if she did remember, the memory would be gone moments after I left. However, my father was an only child, and it was important to help him through these difficult times. My son also needed to learn about his roots. 

It was sad to see her unable to hold herself up in a chair, and she seemed so frail and weak. I said hello to her, and she opened her eyes enough to gaze at me. Her air-filled voice repeated, “I’m so tired. I’m so tired.” I held her hand and comforted her the best I knew how. I showed Tim to her, and she struggled out a sincere smile towards him. I told her stories about my family, my job, my tree we planted in honor of my grandfather, and how full and complete our lives were. It was as if I was trying to justify her life through the one, I was able to live now. 

We had brought some cinnamon cookies with us, and I offered one to her. Her dry frail hand reached for a cookie. She slowly nibbled on it.  

As you spend time with someone who is close to death and appears to have lost everything, one naturally thinks about how unimportant much of one’s life can be. I thought about the worldly parts of my life: the cars, the boat, my home, or ability to travel. I thought about the simple function of life: walking, running, feeding ourselves, dressing ourselves…. We have so much when we are healthy. Being a dentist, I reflected on how trivial teeth seem at a moment such as this. I pondered these thoughts as the first cookie disappeared, then another. 

My grandmother’s exhausted manner seemed to temporarily dissipate. She had found pleasure in nibbling the cookies. With her eyes closed and body relaxed, my attention focused on a collage of colorful photographs hanging next to her bed. Looking down at me was a picture of my grandfather, almost as if he approved that I had come. 

My grandfather was a righteous man who always felt it was important to do things the correct way. His home was not large, but it was perfect. Every part of it was neat, crisp, and clean. The saying “everything has a place and every place has a thing” describes how well he took care of his belongings. In the same manner, his and my grandmother’s health had been important to them, including their teeth. They both had most, if not all their teeth until the end. Even at the time of my grandfather’s death at the age of 84, he was scheduled to have some major dental work completed. My grandfather had been comprehensive about caring for his health and life. 

My grandmother was now working on a fifth cookie. I watched as she gently grasped it, lifted it to her mouth, bit and sighed with pleasure at its wonderful taste. Suddenly, I realized that because she had her own teeth at age 89, she was able to find some pleasure in what most would consider horrible existence. She could still eat and experience the pleasure of taste! What had seemed small in the scheme of things a moment ago had renewed importance. 

Many patients judge the competence of a dentist based on whether they are free of pain. However, a dentist’s true competence is measured by whether patients still have the ability to eat at the end of their lives. This can only be achieved with a comprehensive long-term approach to dentistry and helping people understand the importance of this type of care.  

No matter what you do in this world, you need to treat people in a personalized, comprehensive fashion. Now I look at every patient with the hope that when they have lost everything else, including their mind and most body functions, they might enjoy the ability to eat and the sense of taste. 

As her hand reached out, her fragile voice whispered to me, “May I please have another cookie?” 

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About Author

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Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Myers moved to Maine in 1987 after completing a hospital residency program at Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree in biology and his dental degree were both earned at The University of Michigan. Upon first arriving in Maine, he worked for a short time as an associate dentist and opened his private practice in 1990. During the mid-90’s he associated himself with the Pankey Institute and became one of the first dentists to achieve the status of Pankey Scholar.

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Acceptance

November 6, 2019 Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Some time ago, I was listening to a person speak about love and replacing the word “love” with “forgiveness.” His argument was that if you truly expressed forgiveness, then you are a loving person. As I thought about it, I decided “acceptance” was a better word for me. I felt that if I could accept a person for who they are, then it would be easier for me to forgive, and thus love. This started me thinking about the present and past relationships in my life and how I could apply acceptance.

After intentional self-work in this area, I have found that life is more understandable and pleasant when I practice the art of acceptance.

Consider Relationships

We all have had concerns about relationships. We all wonder why others act a certain way towards us. We benefit emotionally, physiologically, and strategically by understanding where they are coming from and how their past experiences have molded them. Stephen Covey would use the phrase “seek to understand, before trying to be understood.” In other words, accept the person for where they are, before you feel you should be influencing them to be what you perceive is correct. In a bad situation, understanding the other person would be a big step towards forgiveness.

Consider Situations

Acceptance of situations has emotional, physiological and strategic benefits as well. It comes down to understanding what is happening instead of trying to control everything. I find this so true in my practice life when my patients have some sort of moderate to severe dental issue. Until they accept what is wrong and “take ownership” of the situation, there is very little that I can do to help them. Often, the worst thing you could do is to try to fix a bad situation without the patient having ownership of the problem, because if things go astray, it becomes your fault.

For Both Ourselves and Our Patients

The art of waiting for when the patient is ready to accept treatment—and the art of understanding, accepting, and positively influencing the patient during the waiting—have both become easier for me over time. Sometimes we need to have difficult conversations with patients to help them accept the truth. But oftentimes we simply need to better understand what they are thinking and why. And, the gentle way to get at this is to inquire why they are reluctant to move forward without a tone of judgment—instead, with genuine care.

One of the great discoveries of working with the public and patients so closely is that most of what we apply to them we can also apply to ourselves. Therefore, we can benefit from accepting who we are, our personal situation, and how those around us are trying to help us. These can be important keys to moving forward in our own lives. Remember, we all travel the same journey.

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About Author

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Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Myers moved to Maine in 1987 after completing a hospital residency program at Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree in biology and his dental degree were both earned at The University of Michigan. Upon first arriving in Maine, he worked for a short time as an associate dentist and opened his private practice in 1990. During the mid-90’s he associated himself with the Pankey Institute and became one of the first dentists to achieve the status of Pankey Scholar.

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The Relationship Based Dental Practice from the Patient’s Perspective

September 30, 2019 Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

It’s early in the morning and the first sip of coffee full of that fresh aroma just went down with a sigh, a sagging of the shoulders and a feeling of here we go for another day. My mind is starting to run the list of what is on the day’s agenda…work deadlines and meetings…the kids’ schedules…what is my spouse doing today? Did I pay that electric bill or not? Then it hits. Oh, that’s right! I have a dental appointment today!

The morning life puzzle pieces all start to come together as they always do.

Everyone and everything are in their place. And off I go to the dentist with that fearful thought, “I hope they don’t hurt me today.” Parking in a rush and taking a breath before entering the dental office door, I worry, “Am I just in time?” A gentle face looks up, smiles and greets me by name. With that kind hello, I begin to relax and mentally whisper to myself, “I’m safe here. They know me. They want to take care of me. They’re happy to see me. I’ll be okay.”

The reality is this kind of personalized attention and care is slowly going away.

In medicine and dentistry, consolidation of practices into corporate entities has forced doctors to “run” on a patient-number schedule and production list. Statistics and numbers are slowly pulling their want and desire to give personalized care away from them. And I, the Patient, don’t want to be treated this way.

I’m glad my dentist takes time to know me and my concerns, spends time diagnosing and planning treatment that is individualized and best for me, and doesn’t let insurance companies limit my choices and the quality and quantity of care I receive. What’s important to me is I trust this type of dental care, I think I deserve this type of care—and the comfort I feel during my dental visits is priceless.

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About Author

User Image
Kenneth E. Myers, DDS

Originally from Michigan, Dr. Myers moved to Maine in 1987 after completing a hospital residency program at Harvard and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. His undergraduate degree in biology and his dental degree were both earned at The University of Michigan. Upon first arriving in Maine, he worked for a short time as an associate dentist and opened his private practice in 1990. During the mid-90’s he associated himself with the Pankey Institute and became one of the first dentists to achieve the status of Pankey Scholar.

FIND A PANKEY DENTIST OR TECHNICIAN

I AM A
I AM INTERESTED IN

VIEW COURSE CALENDAR