Turning Your Teeth Green (In a Good Way)

Dr. Nathan Swanson, Newmarket Dental, New Hampshire: James WestDr. Nathan Swanson, Newmarket Dental, New Hampshire: James West

Dr. Nathan Swanson had one of those “holy crap” moments one day when he  looked at the amount of waste his old dental practice produced.

“All the offices, in all the roads, in all the states, in all the countries, it’s a phenomenal amount of waste!” he said during my recent trip to New Hampshire.

So when he opened his own dental practice five years ago, he began a long journey to claim the title as New Hampshire’s greenest dentist, by seeking out corn-based spit cups, biodegradable toothbrushes and a new $30,000 digital x-ray.

“You know, I might not be able to change everybody’s way of doing business or practicing dentistry,” he told me. “But I’m certainly going to change mine.”

Nathan is part of a growing movement, according to Ina Pockrass, the co-founder of the Eco-Dentistry Association, which provides industry-standard certification and helps market over 100 green dentistry products. Nathan is one of 700 members in 45 states, catering to a growing market of what Ina calls “eco-Moms” and “label readers.” Since mid-2009, the association has witnessed a “torrent of interest”, she says.

“Dentistry is getting beyond drill, fill and bill.”

Nathan Swanson is  Climate Desk’s first Trailblazer, a weekly story showcasing one person’s way of tackling climate change. If you want to nominate a Climate Desk “Trailblazer” in your neck of the woods, follow @climatedesk on Twitter, or like our Facebook page and shoot us a message.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend