Dental Clinic Design
The overall function of the dental office should dictate the form of its design and layout rather than adapting function to a prearranged design. Dental offices are most effectively designed from within. A new office, built from scratch, should have the interior functional layout designed first, before overall outside dimensions and walls are drawn. Unfortunately, not all offices have the luxury of total size and shape determination since remodeling an existing facility is the norm.
This presents another design challenge: modifications to existing space to best enhance functional office efficiency. It will help if you begin to lookat your plans and traffic flow from eye level by walking yourself through as a patient would. Again, depending upon the patient services
provided, your overall form and layout can be determined. One of the ways for you to start is through a process of goal setting and preliminary evaluations. Ask yourself a number of questions about how you will practice dentistry now and how you see your practice in the future. How many staff will you have? How many treatment rooms will you need? What growth is projected for you and your community? Will you need more reception room space due to the nature of your patient load? What type of ancillary dental equipment will you use to support your treatment?
Checklist C contains several of the issues that you should consider. The checklist is only a start you need to begin thinking about how you will use the space and how you plan to run the office. Through the use of block diagrams, you can plan for your needs and wants. The block diagrams can then be converted into actual plans. It is important to know your design goals before details can be implemented in an effective office layout by an architect. Similar to the design of a manufacturing facility, a dental office should look at the production area first, then the support areas for the treatment rooms, and finish with the administrative and patient reception areas. For example, location and design considerations could be planned in the following order:
• Treatment rooms;
• X-rays and digital imaging facilities;
• Tray and sterilization areas;
• Reception areas;
• Business office;
• Reception room; and
• Other administrative areas.
Construction and Remodeling Time
Dental office buildings or remodeling projects take time for design, financing, and construction. Dentists who are anticipating office design changes or construction should adequately prepare and plan accordingly. Generally, it is estimated that 15 to 16 months or longer will often be needed in a new office construction project. For a remodeling project, allow yourself at least 9 months.
Determining the physical location of your practice is ultimately a personal, yet important — and never easy — decision. It’s vital that the location you ultimately choose has a local culture and infrastructure that will support your practice. Some suggestions to help you make a wise choice for the location of your dental office include: 1) to explore your wish list for your “dream practice”; 2) review your business plan and image; and 3) conduct a need analysis of your community and patients.
The overall size of the office will be determined by a number of factors, such as:
• Office volume in terms of both productivity and patient traffic
• Amount of time that the office is in use and the number of providers in the facility
• Your practice mission
• Number of staff in your office.
A dentist, practicing in an office with four treatment rooms, employing one dental hygienist, and additional support areas necessary for the effective functioning of the patient flow, will need 1100 to 1500 square feet of office space. Smaller offices can be highly functional if their design is thoroughly planned. Obviously, the type of practice, its volume of patient flow and the number of staff will dictate the overall size of the office.
Parking facilities are very important for both staff and patients. Convenient parking can have a favorable influence on your patients’ perceptions of your office. City codes often regulate the number of parking spaces based on the square footage of the office. Be sure to check these regulations, but remember that they are minimum requirements and that dental offices usually need additional parking spaces. A rule of thumb for determining the number of parking spaces needed is to multiply the number of treatment rooms by 1.5 and add in the number of staff parking spaces needed. Thus, for a four person staff in a three treatment room office, approximately 9 to 10 parking spaces will likely be needed.
Interior Design Considerations
The methods that can be used to enhance the interiors of your dental office are endless! This introductory section can only offer a few basics to consider when designing your office. A good piece of advice is to work closely with your designer. They will have the creativity, experience, and knowledge to help you choose from the countless materials that are available in today’s design marketplace.
Indirect lighting to produce softer, more subtle environments and the use of increased indoor lighting have been the revolutionary changes in
terms of lighting in the dental office, say design experts. Designers are also becoming more creative with lighting to produce relaxing, stress-free atmospheres by using intricate illumination designs. Windows allowing natural light to provide a psychological boost and a connection to nature is another way of reducing stress. Natural light can also be a source for cheap, high quality light if controlled properly. Today, it’s easier than ever to get creative with natural light. Decorative windows, available in colored contemporary and natural outdoors scenes, are just as efficient as conventional windows.
The building site was previously a field, and we planned to construct a dental clinic, a house, a garage for two cars, and a parking lot for seven patients’ cars at the site, which was spacious enough to accommodate all these structures and provide a comfortable working and living environment. Read more
The healthcare industry is beginning to use more color, and dental offices are following this trend. Interior designers can develop color themes throughout the office to attract the eye of the patient and assist movement through the office. Color themes for the floors, fixtures, equipment, walls, and ceilings should be coordinated, if possible. Using innovative ideas can assist in developing room atmospheres that are conducive to patient management. For example, use of color in corridors and stairways can provide stimulation and variety for patients who are passing between spaces. There is evidence that suggests that certain colors are more relaxing than others. It is important that the color schemes contribute to the overall relaxation of the patients in a dental office.
There are a myriad of flooring choices for the dental office. Keep in mind that flooring choices are subject to applicable laws. Floors are available in wood, carpet, vinyl composition tile (VCT), sheet vinyl, ceramic tile, slate, a combination of all of these, or others. With the variety of hard surface flooring and carpet available today, they can be incorporated as wayfinding techniques and patterns to reinforce larger themes. Today, wood flooring, such as Pergo, is an option for treatment rooms since it is more durable, worry free, and easily cleaned. It adds warmth to the dental office setting and can be an attractive, inviting choice of flooring for lobbies and corridors.
Interior designers can assist you in planning your wall preparations. Painted walls are usually inexpensive and easy to clean. New technologies are producing wallcoverings or wallpaper with sharper and more sophisticated designs.Wallpaper is available in a wide variety of color combinations, designs, and textures — including natural grass cloths. In addition, these new products are meeting fire code requirements. One trend that is evolving with wallpaper is that more commercial spaces are using “residential” colors and patterns. Dental offices use the residential theme to help patients relax and feel more comfortable.Wallpaper also is a great way to “cover” imperfections in walls, which can be common in older buildings.
Ceilings can create special effects on the visual perception of the observer. For example, using alternating ceiling heights or placing a border along the ceiling can give an impression of more space or enhance the design. Soffits along the ceiling can be a good way to trap sound and reduce the noise level in the office. In addition, ceiling art such as painted murals, mobiles, even artifacts embedded in the ceiling, can provide positive distractions for patients.