Content Dam Rdh En Articles Print Volume 37 Issue 12 Content Dam Environmentally Conscious Leftcolumn Article Thumbnailimage File

Environmentally conscious

Dec. 1, 2017
Dr. Lisa Knowles wants to help dentists become more aware of becoming green and less wasteful. She wants to preserve the environment for future generations.
Continuing Education
Lisa Knowles, DDS, offers environmentally friendly course for dental professionals

By Ann Marie DePalma, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

Today’s dental teams must be knowledgeable in a variety of areas. Understanding clinical perspectives is only part of the challenge of a high-performing hygienist and dental team. Dental professionals need to understand best business practices and leadership, and possess environmental consciousness. The intersection of these areas, along with excellent clinical skills, provides hygienists and teams with hidden profits and improved patient outcomes.

Lisa Knowles, DDS, has created a program called “LEED the Way: Eco-Friendly Dentistry and Sustainable Business Practices” that explains how, as health-care professionals, we can impact patients’ overall health, improve business outcomes, and be good stewards of our environment. LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) contains concepts for businesses that have the desire to work in an eco-friendly environment and receive the benefits of well-thought-out designs in the workplace.

Bringing her broad vision of health care and fresh perspective to dentistry, Dr. Knowles empowers hygienists and dental teams to have a greater impact on their patients and the world. Being green can lead to more profitability and is an incredible marketing tool to attract high-end patients who are willing to pay for what they believe in—quality dental care while using products that are not only good for them, but good for the environment.

Participants of Dr. Knowles’ program will learn how to be more cost conscious with their practice budgets while simultaneously marketing their practices in different ways to different people.

By learning to take responsibility for their health and the health of the environment, participants leave the program inspired to connect the dots between these interdependent components. When hygienists and dental professionals develop a heightened awareness of broader issues and recognize the impact on overall health, it’s easier to convince patients to take care of their own health. In order to change any behavior, one must first be aware of the problem and then be willing to change the behavior and habits. The program encourages participants to think more deeply and to become change agents for their practices and personal lives.

Being green can lead to more profitability and is an incredible marketing tool to attract high-end patients who are willing to pay for what they believe in—quality dental care while using products that are not only good for them, but good for the environment.

The disposable revolution was evident when Dr. Knowles entered the dental profession. She was concerned about the obscene amount of waste that was occurring in health-care settings, especially dentistry. Scare tactics surfaced with the ever-present fear of OSHA violations. Much misinformation circulated within dentistry. Dr. Knowles wanted to offer options to dental professionals so that treatment could be offered safely and not produce so much waste. Thus the program was born. She also presents programs on mindfulness-based stress reduction, recognizing oral and systemic health indicators, and communication in dentistry.

As she was preparing for one of her LEED programs, Dr. Knowles was carrying a bunch of recyclables and materials to the presentation to demonstrate examples of products that are wasteful. On the way, a friend offered to help her carry the containers and recycle bins from her hotel to the speaking venue. While in transit, the recycle bin fell and all of the plastic bottles and containers went everywhere. People stopped to help and wanted to throw things away. Dr. Knowles quickly told them not to throw away the recyclable items. She said it was a comical experience picking up the “trash” in the building lobby. Her friend swears she will not travel with her again if she is giving that lecture, and chides her regularly about what she is and is not throwing away. It isn’t easy being green, but it’s always worth it.

Her communication major and biochemistry minor from Alma College have become the foundation of what she does as a speaker and dentist. Dr. Knowles found communicating with others fascinating and wanted to help others understand what happens when communication fails. She believes that without good communication skills, it’s very hard to be one’s best. By combining her loves of communication and dentistry (she is a graduate of the University of Michigan Dental School), she empowers others to see patterns in the way people behave and how they can influence patients toward positive health outcomes.

She believes that if she can teach other dental professionals to communicate better and see broader perspectives, they can help educate patients in more profound ways. She is a coach at heart and loves to help others move beyond the barriers that hold them back. This is why she is constantly writing and speaking about topics that inspire her.

Dr. Knowles is married with two children. The family loves to travel and explore new scenes and cultures. She loves the beach, waterfronts, quaint towns, and the outdoors, and she makes a point of pausing to appreciate nature and the stillness and lessons it offers. The great outdoors is her sanctuary and healing and rejuvenation place, which is why she finds it so important to preserve it for future generations.

Why did Dr. Knowles choose dentistry? She said she has always liked creating things with her hands and found that she was good at it. Her hand-eye coordination, ability to make people laugh, and willingness to assist in tough personal times drew her to the profession. Her communication skills have helped her guide others. Dr. Knowles wants to be in the position to offer guidance, healing, and a good listening ear when someone needs it. Dentistry allows her to do all of those things. Helping patients take ownership of their health and wellness while protecting the environment are her inspirations.

For more information about Dr. Knowles or her programs, visit or [email protected].

Thought for the month: “Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly happy holiday season.”—Peg Bracken

I wish all of you a happy, blessed holiday season and all the best personally and professionally in 2018.

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is the 2017 recipient of the Esther M. Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene/Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie has authored chapters in several texts for dental hygiene. She can be reached at [email protected].