Education Involvement Key for Sustainability in Dentistry

Dentsply Sirona’s Cherée Johnson shares thoughts on sustainability and getting clinicians on board at Dentsply Sirona World Las Vegas 22.

There were plenty of activities and announcements at Dentsply Sirona World 2022 in Las Vegas recently, including the company’s launch of the first course of its Sustainability Educational Curriculum, offered online and for free through the Dentsply Sirona Academy. These courses are designed to help clinicians better understand the sustainability challenges in the dental industry and offer resources to help those clinicians meet the needs of their practice in an eco-friendly way.

This curriculum was developed with information garnered from the Global Sustainability in Dentistry Study, which was commissioned by Dentsply Sirona. This study gave critical insight on how dentists around the world view sustainability and where they look to Dentsply Sirona and the industry for support, according to Dentsply Sirona’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Chief Legal Officer and Chair of the Sustainability Committee, Cherée Johnson.

At Dentsply Sirona World 2022, Johnson sat down with Dental Products Report managing editor Stan Goff for a discussion that focused on sustainability, her new roles with the company, and the annual DS World event, known for great education and networking opportunities, as well as top-notch entertainment, including performances this year from comedian and actor David Spade, and rock band Journey.

DPR: Tell us a little about your role with Dentsply Sirona.

CJ: I joined the company at the end of February as Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel. I have a number of functions under me, but one of the most important ones is Chair of the Sustainability Committee. Sustainability is one of the most prominent topics in society today and the dental industry needs to play its part in protecting the planet and improving the quality of life around the globe.

As a Company, we feel we have the obligation to contribute to the advancement of the dental industry in all facets of the ESG statement (environmental, social, and governance) and help dental professionals to be more sustainable, the same way we support them in other sides of their business. We all have a role to play when it comes to sustainability, and it is crucial that we act now.

To ensure that our support is well attuned to the real situation of the industry and the needs of its professionals around the world, as well as to understand how dentists view sustainability and where they look to us for support, we commissioned a Global Sustainability in Dentistry Study earlier this year. We spoke to over 1300 dentists from US, Brazil, Germany, UK, France, China, and Japan. And what was eye-opening was that most dentists— 9 out of 10 —said that sustainability is important, which is extremely encouraging. 7 out of 10, though, said that the dental industry is lagging behind and that they need some help. Furthermore, the majority believe that sustainability is going to be a key driver for patients when selecting a dentist and a dental practice in the near future.

For more information on Global Sustainability in Dentistry Study, visit the Dentsply Sirona Sustainability Hub here

DPR: It seems as if there’s a need to help educate dental professionals, correct? Your numbers indicate that clinicians think sustainability is important, but they may need help doing something about it.

CJ: The study revealed that three-quarters of all dentists believe that there is a knowledge gap on sustainability and want to learn more about the issue. And that’s what we are trying to do, help bridge this gap and support them in their sustainability journey.

To that end, we recently launched the first course of a novel Sustainability Educational Curriculum, offered online and for free through Dentsply Sirona Academy. This is the first course of this type ever published in the dental industry and we cannot be prouder of what it means, not just to us but to the future of dentistry.

At DS World, we also hosted our first-ever breakout session focused exclusively on sustainability, and from a social responsibility standpoint, we also launched a fundraiser to support Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft-focused organization, with whom we signed a 5-year partnership in 2021. We’re really changing lives, one smile at a time.

Additionally, and from a higher-level perspective, last year we initiated our partnership with the World Dental Federation (FDI) and other leading oral healthcare companies on a ground-breaking initiative called ‘Sustainability in Dentistry’. We are currently the only dental device manufacturer in this partnership, and through it, we took a big leap forward as an industry earlier this year with the release of the FDI Consensus Statement on Environmentally Sustainable Oral Healthcare. This document provided a comprehensive status quo for sustainability in dentistry. Now, with the Pledge to deliver more sustainable oral health, the new FDI online toolkit and our own Sustainability Educational Curriculum for dental professionals, clinicians can make a real commitment to changing their practice, with accessible support and guidance to help them succeed.

DPR: So how does thinking about sustainability give people the confidence that they can play a role? If they’ve been doing the same thing for 20, 30, 40 years, and they've had a successful practice, it's hard to have a mindset to think that they need to make any changes.

CJ: The first step is building awareness of the issue and of all the benefits associated to taking action and the second is giving them the nudge that they need to rethink their routines and processes by facilitating their access to change.

This journey can start small, like shutting off the lights at night and at lunchtime, using timers for a more efficient use of energy, consuming less paper and less plastic, employing reusable items, and asking questions about the packaging of the equipment of your products. Then, having a closer look at your waste. Are you recycling it? Or are you just throwing it away? There are many simple actions that can be taken and creating awareness and providing guidance is a big part of this. The first course of our Sustainability Educational Curriculum explains key terms and shines a light on the opportunities that dentists have to become more sustainable in their practice.

DPR: From Dentsply Sirona’s perspective, you mentioned making changes. What steps are the company taking?

CJ: We are also on a journey and are thinking about how we're impacting the world, how we're impacting the planet. Dentsply Sirona is committed to becoming a more sustainable company and is taking action in support of sustainable dentistry through the implementation of our sustainability strategy, BEYOND, which was launched last year and thanks to which we have made solid progress in this area. We have already reached our initial short-term target to reduce Scope 1 and 2 GHG emission intensity and water withdrawal intensity by 15% by 2025 and we are in the process of conducting a global audit to inform about next measures we need to take. While a lot still needs to be accomplished moving forward, we are proud of the progress we have made in just 12 months and are committed to continuing to go “BEYOND” as we strive to reach all our sustainable goals while adapting to a rapidly evolving global environment.

DPR: Tell us a little about Dentsply Sirona World and what these events mean to you.

CJ: We had to take a little bit of a hiatus because of COVID-19 but we are back and we're stronger than ever. An event like Dentsply Sirona World gives us the opportunity to connect with, inform and educate our customers, our distributors, our partners, our dealers…everyone who touches our products. Dentsply Sirona World provides a window into the future of dentistry, which is both digital and more sustainable, a future that we can all build together. After three days of networking and knowledge-sharing, attendees should walk away feeling inspired and motivated to take the next step in their own professional and sustainable journey to build a healthy practice and create healthy smiles.

DPR: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

CJ: My family and I just moved to Charlotte, where our company headquarters are located, three weeks ago. I'm a woman, a mom, and a wife, but from a professional perspective, I started out as a chemical engineer. After working as such for a couple of years, I went to law school and became an intellectual property lawyer - and then I broadened out and became general counsel, which is what I am now at Dentsply Sirona. Previously, I managed quality and regulatory as well as ESG at a couple of other firms. So that's me. I enjoy every day and no day is the same.


During the first day of DS World ‘22, Erania Brackett, Senior Vice President, Chief Marketing Officer, conducted a presentation at the Dentsply Sirona booth for members of the mediaon thecompany’s sustainability strategy: “BEYOND: Taking Action for a Brighter World.” For more information on BEYOND, visit

Earlier this year, both Johnson and Brackett were honored in a list that celebrates the achievements of influential Black executives in corporations across America. The two wererecognized in Savoy Magazine’s 2022 Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America. Savoy Magazine is a well-known publication for Black communities in the USA that aims to showcase and drive positive dialogue on and about Black culture.