By Genni Burkhart
Adhering to regulations and guidelines can be somewhat complex when designing (or remodeling) a dental practice. Still, the aesthetics are straightforward. Patients want to feel comfortable, relaxed, and safe during treatment.
The savvy dentist understands how design can impact their practice’s success. Well-planned, thought-out design can minimize the stigma (and fear) often associated with a dental office and transform it into a warm and welcoming experience that patients want to visit.
Paying attention to the environment you offer your patients has become increasingly important. With growing competition, your practice must consider its aesthetics as a way to brand itself in retaining and attracting new clients. Furthermore, good design can affect how well your patients cope, heal, and recover. Above all, it's become relevant to patients when booking their next dental appointment.
We'll review how aesthetics can help your dental practice become a place for patients to escape to, not a place to escape from.
Prioritize the Patient
Close your eyes for a moment and visualize a space that promotes health and healing. It most likely incorporates natural lighting, mellow music or tranquil sounds, soft textures, luxurious comforts, and an overall feeling of peace. It is probably not what most people imagine when visiting the dentist.
However, favorable design can improve productivity and profits and influence how well patients cope with treatment and perceive their level of care. Ultimately, seeing the dentist is about health and healing, and design can have a significant impact.
Blaze Makoid, AIA NCARB and founder/partner of BMA Architects in Bridgehampton, NY, has made it a point to design fashionable medical spaces. From The Urban Dentist in Berlin, Germany, to the Phillips Family Cancer Center in Southampton, NY, healthcare's institutional and artistically void atmosphere is wholly transformed into a modern, intriguing space with the patient's experience top-of-mind. (Click on the embedded links and see how well these spaces incorporate modern textures and lighting with medical standards for remarkable flair and style.)
To avoid a feeling of cold claustrophobia that often comes from poorly designed medical spaces, Makoid created each space to positively influence how patients feel from the moment they enter to their last step out the door. Be it a cathedral ceiling or expansive windows overlooking lush and vibrant gardens, curved LED-lit walls, or lush pink seating pods and a straight path from the entrance to the treatment room, putting patient anxieties at ease was top-of-mind in every aspect of his design.
Short and direct routes from the waiting area to the operatory should also factor in. In an interview for The Business of Home, Makoid says, "It's not like the rabbit-warren experience patients so often see. Just this small step can help to decrease anxiety and increase a feeling of control."
Incorporate Your Personality
How your patient sees you matters.
How much of your personality shines through in your practice? Do you see design as a way to humanize yourself and connect with patients?
These are great questions to ask yourself when looking to elevate the design of your dental space. It’s important to let your personality come through and let your patients feel connected to the person they trust with their smile.
Grand Street Dental in Brooklyn, NY, has built its success on meticulous design and a layout that feels more like an art gallery than a sterile dental office.
For owner and co-decorator Jennifer Plotnick, DMD, she wanted a space that would highlight the doctor-patient relationship and reflect her personal interests. Numerous publications have highlighted Grand Street Dental's bespoke design, including Forbes, Domino, and Esquire.
In an interview with Jake Rossen at Zocdoc.com, Dr. Plotnick emphasized how important design was when opening Grand Street Dental in 2016. “I wanted to create a space and an environment that reflected me and my personal interests as well as be a space that I wanted to be in every day. I think that people are responding to the design, but they’re also responding to the authenticity around it.” She continues, “Everything in medicine is upgraded and modern, but there’s not a lot of personality. Putting myself out there and sharing my interests lets people get an idea of me and see if I’m the right provider for them. It’s a win-win.”
Considering Grand Street Dental's warm and inviting design and attention to detail, it’s easy to see how Dr. Plotnick’s practice stands out among providers. By incorporating her personality into the design of her practice, she’s seized an opportunity to successfully connect with her patients.
Look to Your Peers for Inspiration
Dentists enjoy consulting with one another. It allows them to share experiences, ideas, and advice and benefit from their colleagues' collective knowledge and expertise. It also allows them to understand better the current environment in which they practice.
In addition to sedation techniques, case studies, practice management, innovative technologies, and the latest tools, dental design is essential in practice sustainability.
If you appreciate bespoke dental spaces, you'll want to follow dental_architects on Instagram. In addition, if you are an American Dental Association (ADA) member, the Design Innovation Awards will begin voting for their 2023 award on October 1st. Find out more here, and you can also view last year's inspiring winners.
In the process of considering your design options, it is essential to create a space that you will enjoy spending time in as well. Several other factors should be considered, including:
- Timeline and budget.
- Legal and regulatory planning.
- Artistic elements.
- The patient population you most serve. (Millennials, pediatrics, elderly, or specialty dentistry).
- Square footage of space, location, lease, and equipment requirements.
- Services provided, such as aesthetics and cosmetic dentistry.
Leave a Lasting Impression
Gone are the days when dentists played elevator music in sterile, fluorescent-lit offices, displaying banal posters and handouts while seating patients in cramped waiting rooms on uncomfortable chairs.
Now, dental practices are embracing technology to create a well-designed, inviting, and relaxing atmosphere for patients. Music streaming, LED lighting, custom furniture, massage chairs, artwork, and aromatherapy are all becoming popular additions to dental offices. These elements help create a more enjoyable experience for patients while promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.
The aesthetics of your dental practice can help patients feel like they genuinely matter or leave them feeling like just another spot to fill on a conveyor belt. Creating a safe, welcoming, and inviting space for patients is essential for your practice to stand out among providers. Design is the perfect opportunity to make an unforgettable first impression and an everlasting reminder that dental appointments are, in fact, something to look forward to.
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Author: With over 13 years as a published journalist, editor, and writer Genni Burkhart's career has spanned politics, healthcare, law, business finance, technology, and news. She resides in Northern Colorado, where she works as the Editor in Chief of the Incisor at DOCS Education.