Dental lab going green to save green

Dental lab going green to save green

Friday, October 29, 2010

Contact

College Director of Communications
417.447.2655 publicinfo@otc.edu
Steve Koehler
Coordinator of Publications (417) 447-2666 koehlers@otc.edu

The Ozarks Technical Community College Dental Hygiene Clinic is going green to save some green.

Recent additions of new equipment and supplies have helped the department become more environmentally friendly and save money in the long run.

The program is saving a considerable amount of money due to the decrease or elimination of paper charts, x-ray film and chemicals, reusable sterilization items, and lowered lighting voltage. The overall savings is estimated at about $2,700 annually.

“We’ve just begun implementing these greener ideas and as far as cost savings, our ordering of materials has dramatically decreased, which is saving taxpayer money,” said Lisa Hunter, clinic supervisor for the dental hygiene program.

Over the past months, the lab has been converted into a digital x-ray lab, which allows for instantaneous x-rays to be available. Traditional x-rays are still being used about 20 percent of the time to allow students to learn that technique still practiced in many dental offices.

The amount of radiation a patient is exposed to is reduced by half and the x-rays appear on a computer screen attached to the patient’s chair. Since the x-ray is digital, it can be enlarged or a part of it can be isolated to look closer at a single part of a tooth.

“More dentists are going digital and upgrading their technology. Our students are learning that process here and are ready for those offices,” Hunter said.

In addition to big changes, smaller adjustments are being made in the lab that began when a patient noticed trash cans were full every day.

“The amount of waste was something that had to be remedied,” Hunter said.

Today, those same waste cans have little, if any, trash in them, thanks to some of the changes being made.

Hunter said the department has just scratched the surface in looking a greening opportunities in the department.

“We are constantly looking for things to do to save money for the students and the community we serve and make the program more environmentally sound,” she said.

 Steve Koehler is coordinator of publications at Ozarks Technical Community College. Contact him at koehlers@otc.edu.