Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Do Eco-Friendly Dentists = Green Teeth?

I'm certain they don't. And, yes, there are now green dentists. Springwise takes note of Transcendentist, a Berkeley, CA, dental practice that keeps your teeth white the green way. According to their post,
Certified by the Alameda County Green Business Program, the office practices ecologically sustainable dentistry -- from serving organic chamomile tea to using amalgam separator filters to prevent mercury entering the environment. (Transcendentist doesn't use amalgam, but does remove old fillings.) Transcendentist also uses digital imaging instead of x-rays, which means less radiation for patients and employees, and no need for the chemicals that are used to process x-rays.

The eco approach extends to the rest of the office: non-toxic paint on the walls, chemical-free wool carpet and cloth headrest covers and bibs instead of paper disposables. Transcendentist was founded in 2003 by Fred and Ina Pockrass, with the aim of creating a calm and healing experience for clients. To this end, Transcendentist isn't just environmentally friendly, but also incorporates elements of a spa. Every visit includes a foot massage, sound and color therapy are used to soothe patients, and the office even has its own line of essence-infused, natural body products.
While some will write this off as a hippy-dippy experiment, the practice is taking off: partners were told to expect 10-15 new patients a month. In reality, they're getting 30, 40, even 60 in a few really good months. It's been so successful, in fact, that the owners plan to roll out the concept as a licensed business model!

While the success of Transcendentist certainly points to the power of green marketing (especially when it's the real deal), I'm guessing the efforts to create a calm, soothing environment also really contribute to the practice's growth. An awful lot of people are still afraid to go to the dentist, and the assembly line approach I've seen in recent years (at least at the couple of practices I've used) isn't likely to make patients look forward to that six-month cleaning. The Pockrasses aren't just creating a greener dental office: they're creating a better experience for their patients. Nothing quite like a foot massage to prepare you for the pick-and-water treatment.

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