No charts, less water: Greener orthodontics in Montgomery County

Dental staff group photo
February 16, 2016
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Anyone who has ever visited a dentist or orthodontist knows how resource-intensive those businesses can be. But conservation is still possible. Just ask the experts at Scott Orthodontics.

Scott Ortho Logo Revised (Lip Balms)

Treat it Like Your Home

From water to electricity and everything in between, oral care, like health care in general, can consume plenty if care teams aren’t careful. Scott Orthodontics has been working hard since 2012 to improve its own sustainability.

“Everything is team-oriented,” said Kimberly Sarvis, treatment coordinator at Scott Orthodontics. “We’re always saying to each other, ‘treat this like it’s your home. Don’t be wasteful. Don’t do things you don’t have to.’”

For those efforts, Scott Orthodontics, which is based in Silver Spring but also has an office in Mitchellville in Prince George’s County, has been named a Certified Green Business by the Montgomery County Green Business Certification Program. They were recertified in 2015.

The sustainability changes they’ve made save the business power, water, and money. Perhaps most importantly, though, they hope it brings a smile to patients’ faces.


Signs reminding people to turn off lights in the office

Light switch stickers remind staff to turn off lights when leaving a room.

Energy and Water: Easy Wins

Many of Scott Orthodontics’ sustainability upgrades would work for any business or home. For example, all overhead lights in the Silver Spring office were replaced with LED lighting, saving the company an estimated $800 per year. They also installed smart strips for the electronics at each patient chair to eliminate “vampire” power consumed when electronics are off or in standby mode.

In addition, office staff foster conservation at the office’s 11 water fixtures by focusing on the human side of the equation.

“We posted signs everywhere. There’s one by the sink reminding people to conserve water,” Sarvis said. “When we’re washing dishes, we wait until the end of the day and do one wash.”

Switching to reusable plates is one way Scott Orthodontics is reducing its use of paper. The two locations now jointly order staples like folders, business cards, and the ubiquitous orthodontist toothbrush. This, Sarvis said, cuts down on unnecessary purchases.

“We’re downsizing the ordering. We try to make the effort to share between offices,” Sarvis said. “That’s a great source of cost reduction for us.”


A sign that instructs patients to save water while brushing their teeth

Signs like this educate patients on water consumption and serve as a good reminder to turn off the water when brushing your teeth.

Digital Patient Charts, And More

What’s more, the Silver Spring office has gone “chartless,” with patient information now residing in a secure digital database instead of massive file cabinets. Recycling at Scott Orthodontics is now more of a conscious effort, with general paper products hitting blue bins instead of trash cans.

“Contracts and other things we do all electronically now,” Sarvis said. “All paper that has no patient information on it goes in the recycling.”

As for those famous postcards, the ones reminding you it’s time for your checkup? Those reminders arrive by phone, email, or text message now if you’re a patient at Scott Orthodontics.

“We don’t mail them anymore, we email them,” Sarvis said. “We do the same for school excuses. We see a lot of patients per day, so it’s important for us to communicate with schools regarding their absence. We just email the schools with information.”

Sarvis said Scott Orthodontics is pleased to be a Certified Green Business, and publicizes that fact on its website and in office promotions—which, true to form, are now paperless.

“We use computer screens in our waiting room,” Sarvis said. “We are a Certified Green Business and we have that on our slideshow.”

To find other green businesses in Montgomery County or learn more about the green business certification program, visit

Green Business Certification Program Logo

By Scott Harris, Freelance Writer. Read Scott’s other posts on the benefits of environmental peer pressurebirds and climate changeeco-friendly ice rinksresidential solar, and congregational rain gardens.


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