Sustainability Goals for the New Year

Good riddance 2020. Did anyone else look back on their resolutions from last year and laugh? We know that many of the challenges from 2020 will continue into 2021, however, in honor of the new year we decided on a reasonable and achievable goal as an office: reducing waste!

The pandemic has caused an increase in waste all around us – reusable grocery bags were restricted in stores, paper bags were used up and were replaced with plastic bags, masks and gloves strewn across sidewalks, not to mention the increase in barriers and PPE in medical/dental offices. So we figured it’s a good time to revisit our current sustainability standards, make some adjustments, and do better.

Here’s our plan to reduce waste in the new year and beyond (some of these have been our standard since Five Pines opened in 2016 and others will be implemented throughout the year):

  • We are a paperless office! Patients fill out health history forms on their own mobile device or on one of our tablets. All patient charts are electronic, eliminating cross-contamination while transferring paper charts from treatment rooms to and from the front office area.
  • Our staff changes treatment gowns between each patient; however, we do not use disposable gowns. Our gowns were lovingly handmade by Dr. Zeller’s mom and we launder them throughout the day with our lab coats. Thanks, Pam!
  • Five Pines uses digital x-rays, reducing the waste that comes along with developing and mounting traditional photos. X-rays are immediately uploaded into the computer as we take them and can also be transferred electronically.
  • Our staff breakroom does not use disposable cutlery or plates. Additionally, in the post-pandemic waiting room, we will no longer use disposable cups and mugs. Ceramic mugs and glassware will be available for patient use.
  • We are currently phasing out patient bibs, AKA “trash necklaces”. We will be laundering small hand towels to use during your appointment. Plus, towels are more absorbent and keep your shirt nice and dry during treatment!
  • Our treatment rooms are phasing out plastic trash bags and switching to biodegradable trash bags.
  • Dr. Zeller does not place silver amalgam (mercury) fillings, however, when any existing amalgam is removed during procedures we dispose of it safely and appropriately. Biohazard waste is also disposed of correctly through strict OSHA and CDC protocols.
  • Don’t want a goodie bag? Only want some of the goodies? Please feel free to decline your post-appointment treats – We are happy to save them for the next patient.

Speaking of reducing waste, many of you have inquired about Bite toothpaste bits. Bite toothpaste bits come in plastic-free refillable glass jars and while they do not have fluoride, bite bits contain cavity-preventing ingredients. We reached out to Bite and received a promo code for new subscribers – use SUBSCRIBE1 for $5 off!

We also tried Unpaste tablets, found at Well Earth Goods (based in Oregon). Unpaste uses tablets that are chewed before brushing as normal. They feel refreshing and come with about a two-month supply of tablets! Unpaste tablets can be found here.

With a collective effort from the Five Pines team, we know these small but impactful changes will benefit our planet. Cheers to the new year!


Holiday Hours

We will be closed on:

Wednesday, December 23
Thursday, December 24
Friday, December 25
Friday, January 1

On Thursday, December 31 we will be open from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm.

Email us anytime at info@fivepinesdental.com or leave us a message at 503-482-2160 and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Happy Holidays from the Five Pines family to yours!


Ask a Hygienist: Stress and Your Oral Health

Lately we’ve been seeing a wave of new oral health concerns from patients.

“I’ve been so stressed that I feel like I am clenching my teeth all the time.”

“I have been working from home and sometimes I forget to brush my teeth in the mornings”

“My self-care has been lacking due to depression.”

So many of us are far from our “normal” and out of our regular routines. We are stressed, tired, and just trying to make it through this strange time.

Our body responds to stress down to a molecular level. Stress affects the immune system and can cause an imbalance in inflammatory reactions in the body and increase vulnerability to illness, oral ulcers, infection, and decreased wound-healing.

Stress can also cause people to neglect their oral health, especially since poor mental health often correlates with a lack of self-care. Eating habits are often altered, with an increase of sugar and snacking which can increase your risk for cavities. Alternatively, one may be eating less often or eating softer foods – taking away the mechanical movement of chewing and therefore increasing plaque accumulation. Many people cope with harmful habits such as smoking (which increases your risk for periodontal disease, cancer, and cavities), nail-biting (causing wear and chipped teeth), cheek and lip biting (resulting in painful sores or ulcers), and teeth clenching (causing tooth wear and fatigue in the TMJ).

Okay, so now that I have thrown all these stress-inducing scenarios out there, what can you do? Do your best. Meticulous oral care might be the last thing on your mind lately, we get that. Make an appointment for routine, preventative care – especially if you have seen an increase in bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, or have increased jaw pain.

It’s our job to assist you in finding ways to personalize your oral hygiene regimen during these unprecedented times.  We understand, and we’re here for you.

Do you have a dental question for Lauren? Email clinic@fivepinesdental.com and let us know what’s on your mind.


All Are Welcome Here

A note from Dr. Zeller and his wife Catharine:

These past months of protests against racial injustice across the country have had a powerful impact on our family. They’ve led to lots of soul-searching for us as healthcare providers, as business owners and as humans. We feel strongly that this is an opportunity for positive change in this country – starting with change within ourselves. You might not be concerned about your dentist’s opinion on all this, and that’s fine, but we wanted to write this blog post to make one thing abundantly clear:

We are committed to treating all patients justly no matter their race, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Sure, we wish this was already a universal truth and didn’t need to be made into a “statement”. But that is not yet the world we live in. These past few weeks we’ve been humbled by the stories of people who have experienced social injustice in this country – including within healthcare settings.

We want to be better for our community. We want to recognize areas where we fall short of being anti-racist. We pledge to:

  • Keep the discussion going. We’ve added an agenda item to all monthly staff meetings going forward to check in on this commitment. We want our team members to be able to share, be heard and feel comfortable discussing topics such as this as a team.
  • Educate ourselves. We’re making a commitment to participate in continuing education courses on inclusivity in healthcare, unconscious bias training, and other pertinent topics at least twice a year.
  • Listen to others’ voices. We’ve added a form on our website where our patients and community can send us feedback directly (and anonymously if you choose). And while we understand the responsibility to educate ourselves lies with us, if you’d like to share any tools or resources from which we could benefit, we would be both open and grateful.

This has been a challenging time for so many. We hope you are doing okay. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Richard and Catharine


New Protective Measures

COVID-19 has changed a lot here at Five Pines, but our top priority remains the same: the health of our patients. Here are some of the changes we’ve implemented to ensure our clinic is as safe as possible for our patients and our team members: 

  • Social Distancing. Our waiting room has been rearranged and new floor markings have been added to encourage social distancing. Please wear a face covering to your appointment. Extra masks and hand sanitizer are available at our check-in counter.   
  • Daily screenings. Patients will be texted a COVID-19 screening form to complete on their cell phone prior to their appointment. Once in the office we will check your temperature. Our staff is also screened daily!
  • Decreased patient traffic. We are limiting the number of patients in the office at a time and staggering appointment start times. We encourage you to come alone to your appointment if at all possible.
  • More touchless options. Patients can complete forms on their own cell phone instead of our iPads. Touchless payment options are now available as well. 
  • Hourly disinfecting. We are cleaning high-contact surfaces and common areas every hour. As always, our treatment rooms are disinfected using Universal Precautions between each patient.
  • Additional PPE. In accordance with state and federal guidelines, our clinical team will be using N95 masks, face shields and gowns during procedures that commonly produce aerosols. 
  • New air purifiers. All treatment rooms are now equipped with HEPA air filters.   

We will continue to monitor and follow regulatory guidance and will update this list as appropriate. Reach out anytime with any questions.