Dr. Nammy talks about how sustainability, non-toxic materials, and long-lasting materials combine to create green dentistry practices.

John Maher:      Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients to recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health, and author of the best-selling book, Age with Style: Your Guide to a Youthful Smile & Healthy Living. Today, our topic is Green Dentistry. Welcome Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel:            Hi, John. Thank you for having me.

What Is Green Dentistry?

John:     Sure. So Dr. Nammy, it’s right in the name of your business Green Dentistry, but a lot of people might not have heard of that. What is Green Dentistry?

Dr. Nammy:        So, Green Dentistry is a concept that started and I invented about 15 years ago, actually 16 now. And the concept takes into practices that are sustainable. So our whole focus is how to be sustainable with the waste that we create in the environment, also the way that, how do we make restorations last longer? How can we use non-toxic materials in our mouth to make sure that we’re having healthy materials in there, and then also, how do we make them last longer so that they don’t have an environmental component at the end?

Is Green Dentistry More Expensive?

John:     Okay. So is green dentistry more expensive than say, your standard dentist that you go to?

Dr. Nammy:        Green dentistry, there is, I would say a little bit more cost initially up front. For example in our practice, we’re within a certain… We’re in San Francisco Union Square, and we’re a great practice. There’s practices that charge more than we do, there’s practices that charge a less than we do. we’re pretty… We’re a nice practice, we deliver quality and for quality materials, we’re charging an average price for that. So initially it may feel like it’s expensive or an investment, but in the long-term, you’ll realize that the materials last so much longer, that it actually works better. The most important is that we warranty or products. So if something breaks, we want to know why. Usually something doesn’t break, unless something actually happened.

For example, if we put a new crown, we need to know if a crown breaks, we need to know why did this crown break? Is it that the patient is a grinder and a clencher or that the patient not continue to come in for their cleanings? And so what we’re really doing here is we’re really avoiding that drill and fill cycle. And we’re really looking at how can we help you long-term. What needs to get done, let’s get it done properly and make it last for a lifetime.

Will Green Dentistry Become More Popular?

John:     Right. So President Biden just came into office at the very beginning of February in 2021. And I know that Joe Biden is very interested in green businesses and things like that. Do you see this kind of coming up and becoming more popular and there being more green dentists around?

Dr. Nammy:        Absolutely. Green dentistry, we have to take action. We cannot keep doing what we have been doing for a long time, which is turning a blind eye. Climate change is real and it’s important that as we move forward, as the next generation comes into the working force, they’re asking for these things. I have so many young adults who are coming to the practice, finding it because we really believe in the product. We really believe that it’s green and sustainable, and it’s something that aligns with our values. And they want to ensure that they’re going to have an environment for their children. If as a society we want to continue, we must adapt to green principles and sustainable principles in order to make sure that our earth is here, and also we have clean air, fresh water in nature that we all need in order to survive.

Is Green Dentistry Better?

John:     So do you think that your patients mostly choose you over a standard dentist because they are interested in being green, they want to have those sustainable practices and things like that, or do you think that it’s because of the particular care that you take and that your dental care is actually better than a standard dentist?

Dr. Nammy:        Yeah, it’s actually both. I was going to say, initially they find me because they’re looking for a green dentist and what they find is that we built a long-term relationship and they’re proud of being part of an organization that donates to non-profits, is focused on building community, is also focusing on helping them save time, effort, energy, money, and teeth, and avoid the whole drill and fill cycle. And it’s a place where they’re really comfortable. So it’s a combination of it all. And that’s a true of any business. In order for any business to thrive, it must have certain components, it must meet the customer’s needs or the client’s needs. And that’s what we look at as green dentistry is, there’s a component that is obviously one dentistry that lasts a long time and they want to make sure it’s comfortable and that they can chew properly and make sure that it’s good looking stuff.

And they also want to work with a community that is beyond that. Those are the basics that we expect from any dentist. Right?

John:     Right. Absolutely.

Dr. Nammy:        And now when we go beyond that, we look at how do these materials last longer than someone else? And we have studies from 5,000 patients that, 80% of our stuff lasts longer. For example, for deep cleanings, there’s patients who’ve had deep cleanings and they need to get them done over and over and over again, every two years. In our practice, it’s if they ever do need again, it’s usually a five-year time cycle.

John:     Wow! Okay.

Dr. Nammy:        So the products that we actually use work really well. I have crowns that have been sitting in the mouth for 15 years now, actually going on 16 now. There’s a few that chip or crack here and there, but majority of them last a very long time. And that’s what we’re looking for is 80%. 80% of our work, or actually it’s actually 90 for us. Majority of the stuff lasts and we actually track this over time.

Differences Patients Notice in the Dental Office

John:     Right. You mentioned before that your patients really feel comfortable with working with Green Dentistry, which is not something that you usually hear from somebody about their dentist, that they feel comfortable. What are some of the differences that I might see if I go into your Green Dentistry office office?

Dr. Nammy:        The first thing you’ll notice is the feel. When you walk into the office, it’s a really calm feel. The second, is you’ll smell how clean it is and there are no toxins in the air. Even all of our cabinetry is FSC certified wood, so there’s no formaldehyde, they’re not chemically treated. So you don’t smell any off gassing. So those are first key things that you see. We’re completely digital, that’s another factor that we see in the practice. Even our doors are made with recycled plastic. So just so many aspects that are eco-friendly. And when you walk in, you’ll feel it, it’s just in the air. It’s kind of like when you go to the Ritz-Carlton, you just feel really good when you walk in there, because they just treat you that way. And when you walk into Green Dentistry, you notate the flooring, you see the walls, you see the recycled plastic doors, the FSC certified wood.

Even our countertops are made with recycled content, actually recycled bottles picked out from trash, believe it or not, and they’re melted down and then the countertops are made out of it. And the ecological component is so prevailing in our practice. In fact, back in 2010, Recology actually gave us an award for being sustainable along with the San Francisco Business Times. So they actually acknowledged our business and the eco-friendly efforts we were doing, and to really support us in the work that we’re doing in educating the entire community.

John:     All right. Well, that’s really great and great information about Green Dentistry, Dr. Nammy. Thanks again for speaking with me today.

Dr. Nammy:        My pleasure.

John:     And for more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website @sfgreendentist.com or call 415-433-0119.