A Primer On Dental Office Design

May 16, 2013 | Dental |


Dental offices vary widely. Some are luxurious while others are basic and dated. Profitable Practice asked Dave Love of Patterson to shed some light on what is current in dental office design.



1.What are the major considerations when designing a dental office to suit the needs of today’s dentists?


The major consideration is to ensure that the office design primarily focuses on the function of dentistry while being appealing and attractive at the same time. It’s critical the office be designed around the dentistry that is going to be performed and the specific needs of the dentist.


For example, some dentists prefer an open concept operatory that utilizes an island cabinet to separate operatories that can save space and money. Others prefer a closed operatory set-up where privacy is important. Prime examples are surgery rooms or dental offices focused on pediatric care.


The attractive/appeal factor can play an import- ant role as it makes the office a warm and inviting place for patients and can attract new patients. It also plays an important role to the dentist and his/her staff, as it is another reason they look forward to going to work each day.


Think of a room in your home that was in need of a serious makeover and became more appealing and inviting after the renovation was completed. Patients perceive the look and feel of your dental office as a reflection of the dentistry that
is performed.


The office design should facilitate work-flow and patient-flow. This requires you have a clear vision of what you routinely do and the type of setting you want to do it in. A dental dealer such as Patterson can help with your design needs and consider working with an interior designer to help enhance the look and feel of your dental office.


Lastly, ensure that your office is compliant with all building codes and labour law requirements.



2.What are some common mistakes or bad planning that are evident in many older designed offices.


Older offices may not have made allowance for computers, monitors and other new technologies. I often see operatories with two or three foot pedals and countertops cluttered with numerous devices. It’s certainly not appealing to a patient and it compromises functionality within the operatory. Many of the ancillary devices that clutter countertops in older offices are now housed in the dentist’s and assistant’s delivery units, as well as within cabinetry providing a more aesthetically pleasing and functional operatory.


The reception area often lacks an area where a private conversation can occur with a patient and the office staff. Whether consulting on future treatments or discussing benefit plans and treatment financing, it is important to include a defined space. Other common mistakes are: insufficient sterilization areas which are vulnerable to cross-contamination and a general lack of storage.


Dental offices (like many things in life) have progressed in design and can be made better and more efficient. Dentists often don’t plan for future expansion, whether it’s an extra operatory or even new equipment.



3. What future changes do you anticipate most offices will have to make or un- dergo in the foreseeable future?


Dental offices will continue to convert to ‘paperless’ saving time and money. The technology is proven and reliable. It’s a better way to protect the most valuable asset in your practice – your patient charts. Use a service such as InfoSafe to safe guard your valuable data. It will also save 10 to 20 square feet of office space.

Technology will be integrated into cabinetry and delivery units so the operatory looks soothing and inviting and yet the dental equipment can be accessed easily when needed. A dentist or hygienist needs to access technology such as an intra-oral camera in the same manner as a hand piece. It’s also important to make space allowance for technologies such as CEREC, lasers, and microscopes. If renovating a building or starting from scratch ensure that operatories have sufficient conduit. Offices will need to be properly connected for the use of computers, monitors, security cameras and televisions. And of course, Wi-Fi is a must.

Green technologies within the office such as oil-less compressors, dry vacuum systems, efficient HVAC systems, energy star appliances, energy efficient lighting, low voc paint, cabinets made from green materials, such as formaldehyde free resins, and air purification systems such as those from surgically Clean air.

Patients appreciate that your office is up-to-date, and they feel more comfortable and confident in the dental care they receive. Update your office at least every five years. Making an investment in your dental practice is one of the best financial decisions you can make.



4.in recent years we have seen the emergence of dental offices that resemble the setting and feel of an expensive spa with a decor that enhances the feeling of comfort, luxury and decadent exclusivity.

What are your comments on this development?


People like to be pampered. The spa experience has grown from a hot towel at the end of the patient’s procedure, to a service like a facial, manicure, pedicure, massage therapy and in certain provinces Botox and Restylane, etc.


A dental spa setting means more than pampering a patient, it can also be used to help relax a patient as an estimated 10-15 per cent of people deal with a fear of going to the dentist. The decor, interior design and the equipment used play an important element in this type of office.


Dental spa offices are typically located in high-end areas that want to attract a demographic that enjoys being pampered. It’s another way to differentiate your dental practice from the competition, in a competitive marketplace.



Bottom Line:This interview contains interesting and insightful comments about current dental office design.


Dave Love is a Territory Representative with Patterson Dental Canada and has twenty-five years of professional client service experience. He can be reached at 905.598.1521 or dave.love@pattersondental.ca