Dentistry, like many other professions, faces challenges in achieving environmental sustainability due to the extensive use of single-use materials and traditional analog workflows. However, the advent of digital dentistry has brought about significant advancements, offering a promising solution to the sustainability dilemma. 

In this article, we will explore the potential of digital dentistry in improving environmental impact, its impact on sustainability, and the importance of responsible utilization of these cutting-edge technologies.

Revolutionizing the Workflow: From Analog to Digital

The traditional analog workflow in dentistry involves numerous steps, including taking physical impressions, sending them to laboratories, and relying on casting and milling methods. On the other hand, digital dentistry, which can be covered by insurance that covers dental, allows for the acquisition of digital intra-oralimpressions, scanned models, and remote visualization and planning on devices. By eliminating the need for physical transportation and storage of models, digital dentistry significantly reduces the environmental footprint.

Digital Design for Sustainability

The digital design further enhances sustainability by streamlining the process of developing dental prostheses. In contrast to analog methods that require various materials and physical space for storage, digital design enables efficient image capture, cloud storage, and easy modifications, reducing waste and resource consumption.

Embracing Additive Manufacturing (AM)

Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing plays a pivotal role in sustainable dental practices. AM processes offer precise and efficient prostheses using materials like plastics, metals, and ceramics, allowing for intricate geometries and superior accuracy. Recent research has also shown that AM workflows are more sustainable compared to conventional fabrication methods.

Responsible Utilization and Understanding of Limitations

While digital dentistry holds immense potential, its successful implementation requires a comprehensive understanding of its applications and limitations. Dentists must exercise caution when choosing between digital and traditional methods, ensuring they select the most appropriate tools for each case. Improper utilization can lead to unnecessary environmental impacts, such as excessive material wastage or the use of unnecessary resources.

Striving for Improved Sustainability

To fully embrace digital dentistry’s sustainability benefits, dental professionals should consider the entire picture and adopt best practices. Some recommendations include:

  • Assessing the clinical workflow and identifying areas for sustainable improvements without compromising patient care.
  • Mastering the fundamentals and principles of digital dentistry to maximize its benefits in the dental practice.
  • Embracing curiosity and exploring new technologies that promote sustainable dental practices.
  • Critically evaluating the necessity of fully guided cases, opting for alternatives when appropriate.
  • Considering hybrid workflows that combine the strengths of analog and digital approaches until a confident grasp of predictable digital workflows is achieved.
  • Applying the Rs: Recognize, Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose, Rethink, and Rejoice – as guidelines for sustainable decision-making in dental practice.


Digital dentistry undoubtedly offers a pathway toward more sustainable dental practices. Its potential to reduce waste, minimize material consumption, and improve workflow efficiency is undeniable. However, the responsible and thoughtful utilization of these technologies is crucial to achieving the desired environmental benefits. 

By embracing digital dentistry with a holistic approach, dental professionals can contribute to a greener future while providing exceptional patient care.

Cover image: Image by freepic.diller on Freepik