Go green, go digital

Go green, go digital

Alan Clarke shares how Paste Dental has successfully embraced sustainability through the latest digital dentistry technology.

In the heart of a bustling city, we found a dental practice that’s setting a new standard in sustainable dentistry. We sat down with the founder and lead dentist of Paste Dental in Belfast, Dr Alan Clarke, to discuss the innovative steps they’ve taken to integrate eco-friendly practices into their workflow, proving that sustainability can be both achievable and rewarding in the dental field.

Why was sustainability important when setting up Paste Dental?

When I started Paste, I wanted values to be front and centre of our business. I believe that if you start with your ‘why’ every other decision will follow. I’ve always believed that dentistry should go hand in hand with environmental responsibility as we have a duty of care to the community around us.

How has your practice transitioned towards sustainability?

From the get-go, cloud computing and a digital workflow were essential in setting up and running my business. They allow a more seamless workflow, offer incredible clinical accuracy and significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

At Paste, we have implemented digital radiographs, clinical photography, AI technology, 3D intraoral scanning and 3D lab-printed models to our workflow. We have also just installed a new photo studio room to further enhance our digital case planning.

With our city-centre location where traffic is often at a standstill, lab runs can become difficult. By embracing digital dentistry, we’ve reduced our carbon footprint significantly, minimising the need for physical lab runs and collections. It’s a win-win situation: our patients enjoy faster turnaround times, we increase our green credentials and Norman from the lab doesn’t suffer with traffic jam road rage!

What other eco-friendly initiatives have you implemented?

We recognise that sustainability goes beyond the walls of our clinic. Our team is encouraged to use public transport to reduce emissions from commuting.

While single-use in dentistry is brilliant for patient care, it comes with an environmental cost. So, where single use is the best approach clinically, we have paired this with recycling programmes and waste reduction strategies, ensuring we are as sustainable as possible while significantly saving us waste disposal costs.

In the office it can be tough, we are a high-end brand and as a luxury setting we have to accept a level of waste as part of the patient journey. However, we are constantly looking a new products, ideas, processes and methods to improve. For us, sustainability is a constant journey.

How does your focus on sustainability resonate with your patients?

Our patients appreciate that we prioritise eco-friendly practices without compromising on quality care. Many of them are young professionals working in fashion, tech and entrepreneurship – so they really get it. They share our values and are mindful of their own environmental impact. By reflecting these values in our work, we can build deeper connections with our patients and grow together towards a more sustainable future. That is my goal for Paste, a community that inspires each other!

What advice would you give to other dental practices considering a shift towards sustainability?

Start small but think big! It may seem daunting at first, but taking small steps can make a significant difference in the long run…

  1. Start by assessing your current practices and identifying areas for improvement. Where do you see wastage and how can you refine your systems through the lens of sustainability. I work with other practices, refining their patient pathways and practice systems for profitability so it is totally possible to have sustainability as a key value
  2. Embrace digital technology and be open to innovative solutions. This will elevate your dentistry, time-management and clinical accuracy and save your carbon credits and cash at the same time. Take the time to explore new disrupter tech companies into the dental space and consider if they could elevate your game and refine your sustainability practices further.
  3. Look outside of our industry! Dentistry is very narrow sometimes, just because our industry hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean it is not the right fit for us. Take the lead from beauty and cosmetics companies, drop-shipping concepts and online sales platforms, think outside the box and be innovative, you might change the game completely!
  4. Most importantly, engage with your staff and patients in your sustainability journey – their support and collaboration are invaluable in creating lasting change.

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