ora dental studio
gold coast · river north · south loop · west loop · wicker park

Metro Green + Business

Q&A with Dr. Mladen Kralj ORA Dental Studio Co-founder, lead developer

As sustainable principles begin to be applied to various human endeavors, we can expect to see changes that go way beyond slapping solar panels on the roof and tucking a recycling bin into the foyer. MGB talked to Chicago dentist Mladen Kralj about green health care and how the principles involved make going to the dentist an entirely different experience. Those of us not in Chicago can only hope this catches on...

How would you summarize the philosophy behind “green healthcare?”

Green Healthcare is new model of healthcare based on the understanding that human and environmental health is inextricably linked. In this model, health professionals serve as environmental educators, advocates and stewards. By focusing more on prevention, precaution, education, and wellness—we can significantly contribute to improving the health of our patients, community, and the environment.

In Green Healthcare, toxic-free buildings, literacy around local environmental issues, and the use of safe, effective, precaution-based medicine are all intrinsic parts of a new system of healthcare that is good for people and the environment.

Implementing Green Healthcare practices also prepares health professionals to become leaders in the emerging discipline of Sustainable Medicine. Sustainable medicine recognizes the link between the environment, medicine and human health and seeks to provide better healthcare while protecting our limited environmental and medical resources.

When was the GGHC protocol developed and by whom- and is it gaining popularity and acceptance?

The GGHC protocol is definitely gaining popularity and acceptance in the health industry; however, the dental profession is a little bit slower to respond as it tends to have a more traditional, conservative approach by nature. In my view the GGHC protocol will eventually become the new standard in the dental practice construction and administration, which is why ORA Dental Studio is leading the way.

The initiation of health care focused sustainable design tools began with the Green Healthcare Construction Guidance Statement published by the American Society for Healthcare Engineering (ASHE) in January 2002, representing the first sustainable design guidance document to emphasize a health-based approach. The Green Guide for Health Care development initiative began in March 2003 with a group of green health care industry leaders convened to guide the document development.

In December 2003, Version 1.0 of the Green Guidelines for Healthcare Construction was released in draft form for public comment. More than 900 registrants downloaded the document during the public comment period from organizations representing a broad range of architectural, engineering, construction, health care, and manufacturing firms and industry associations.

How is “eco-dentistry” defined?

Our mission is to provide the dental industry with the tools needed to integrate green practices efficiently and effectively, and to support the public in taking personal responsibility for their dental health care choices.

Our vision is a dental industry that combines stewardship of client health with stewardship of planetary health. As practitioners we encourage a comprehensive, whole-person approach to dentistry, and a whole-planet approach to health-care, applying the best practices of traditional and leading-edge treatment modalities.

If I walked into ORA Dental Studios for my first appointment, what would immediately strike me as different?

The fact that it does not look like a typical dental office. You will immediately notice the stunning interior design and feel the tranquility of the environment – a ‘zen-modern’ aesthetic. We also incorporate “sensory branding” which means that we have eliminated the typical sights, sounds, smells, touch, and taste of traditional dental office with completely new ones, thus creating a pleasant dental experience unique to ORA.

And would there be important differences that I might not actually see, but that would still make a difference to the care I would receive?

Yes, because from a clinical perspective “eco-dentistry” is a practice philosophy that incorporates two key elements: minimally invasive treatment and ‘green technology’. Our goal is patient comfort, preservation of the natural dentition whenever possible, and eliminating exposure to toxins in the ‘dental environment.’

For example, compared to traditional x-rays, we use a digital x-ray system that reduce patient exposure to x-rays by up to 90% and eliminates the need for toxic processing solutions. With our i-Cat 3D cone beam technology, our oral surgeon Dr. Steve Koos is able to more accurately view dental anatomy details, thus the placement of dental implants and extraction of wisdom teeth is more predictable and comfortable

In many cases we can treat tooth decay, the most common type of oral disease, without using anesthetic and drilling into the tooth. In this conservative treatment modality we use a laser to detect tooth decay at its earliest inception, and then remove the decay either mechanically with air abrasion, or with the CMU3 ozone therapy system which eliminates the decay causing bacteria.


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