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Designing your ideal dental office (& a giveaway!)

This contest is now closed, but feel free to still leave a comment! Thank you to those who entered and offered great ideas for their future practices. Congratulations to the winners: Punita, Illinois ’16 and Liz, Arizona ’15.
Dental Office Design

Like many dental students, I dream about the day I can finally design my own dental office. It is the day I can say I finally made it. This opportunity will allow me the autonomy to practice the way I want in an environment that is unique to my style. But the question is, where would I begin? Dental school, which focuses on the scientific and clinical aspects of dentistry, does not provide students with a lot of practice management education, let alone any advice on designing an effective dental office.

At first glance, the idea of designing my own dental office was overwhelming (especially since it is such a long way off). Thankfully, there is help! The “ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design” provides an extensive and comprehensive guide to tackling this very rewarding and large hurdle when the time comes.

When I first thought of designing an office, my mind immediately raced to all of the “cool” features of a dental office like surgical lasers, iPads and CAD/CAM machines. This guide brought me back down to earth and gave me a foundation for creating a dental office that I hope to build one day.

The first and most important step in designing a dental office is developing a qualified team that is trustworthy. While I could only think of a few members of an office design team, such as an architect or real estate agent, your team should consist of many more people. Some of the people that should be included in your dental office design team include the following:

  1. Dental equipment consultant or supplier
  2. Commercial real estate agent or broker
  3. Financial lender
  4. Architect or designer
  5. Contractor
  6. Technology specialist
  7. Accountant
  8. Attorney
  9. Practice management adviser

While it may seem superfluous to create such a large team, it is often worth the investment up front to create the dental office of your dreams. Having a knowledgeable team should save you many times the cost of the investment, in addition to preventing time delays and complications that are often associated with constructing an ideal dental office.

The rest of this guide explores the important aspects of designing a dental office and will help you think about many details you might have overlooked before. For instance, placing the windows facing north will ensure that the sun is not causing too much glare or heat throughout the day. Additionally, you are able to review some cases of successful dental office designs, which may help get your creative juices flowing. It is your chance to express who you are and should be a reflection of all of the hard work you have put into being a dental profession.

With this guide at your side, you will be on your way to designing and developing the dental office of your dreams.

Want to win a copy of the “ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design?”  Leave a comment telling us what feature will make your future office the coolest around. For an extra chance to win, click here to subscribe to Mouthing Off. The editors of Mouthing Off will randomly choose one subscriber and one commentor to receive a free copy of the “ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design”–a $134 value! Contest closes April 30.

~Kris Mendoza, Los Angeles ’15, ASDA president

You can get 25% off most ADA products just by being an ASDA member. Visit the ADA catalog by clicking here. Log in and use code 14806 at checkout to get your special discount on nearly all ADA products (excluding the CDT app and Kindle and Nook books) through the end of 2014.

Kris Mendoza

Kris Mendoza was President of ASDA from 2014-2015 and District 11 Trustee from 2013-2014. He graduated from the UCLA School of Dentistry in 2015 and is currently in a Dental Anesthesiology residency at UCLA. Outside of dental school, Kris enjoys running obstacle course races, water skiing, and hiking.

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46 Comments

  1. Collin says:

    In my future practice, I’d hope to have a setup of retro arcade games in the lobby. I think that is something that could keep both younger and older patients entertained and relaxed before their appointment.

  2. Lynn says:

    I would like a message chair in the front office and TV monitors in each operatory to help with nervous patients. I already have a pintrest board for office ideas!

  3. RS says:

    I would love to have lots of windows to bring in plenty of natural light!

  4. Kedy Shen says:

    Get some massage therapists up in there. It’ll be a perk for the patients but really I just want a massage for myself.

  5. Shweta says:

    My future dental office will include a mobile dental clinic which would be the most important feature of my practice and the coolest around. It will provide treatments for the patients who have reasonable constraints to visit the office.

  6. Michael N. says:

    I hope to have a miniature iPad bar in my practice, which would attract to both adults and children.

  7. Ashley Scofield says:

    In my future practice I want to have a showcase of dental-themed artwork and sculptures that I have started collecting! I want my future patients to appreciate the artistic aspect of dentistry!

  8. Joseph F says:

    I’m going to have available iPads and Bose noise canceling headphones at the patients request. It will allow them to drown out the sound of the procedure by listening to their favorite music or even browse the internet while waiting for the procedure to begin. Perhaps it’ll include an app that will allow the patient to view what procedure they’ll be having done, via an animation, if they are comfortable to do so.

  9. Brad Phares says:

    TVs positioned directly in the patient’s supine view, noise-cancelling headphones, and my exquisitely gentle dentistry will lead to my patients begging for cavities to secure a return trip. But what makes it the coolest around? Most definitely the pristine putting green out back within feet of a burbling creek and surrounded by high-towering trees.

  10. TVs in the ceiling with Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphones for the patients (satellite radio-capable as well). Also a menu of flavored gloves and flavored prophy paste. Can’t forget the video gaming system and prizes in the waiting room for kids and adults 🙂

  11. Eric says:

    In my future office I want to have a gaming system with the kinnect/ move feature in the lobby for all to enjoy and stay active. Each chair would have a TV with noise canceling headphones to help ease my patients. I would also like to have really big windows so patients and my team could enjoy the the scenery.

  12. Along with the TVs in the ceiling, I want to have a GoPro at each chair. The patient would be able to hold the GoPro in their hand and then see what they are recording on the ceiling TV. I did this once with a patient but streamed it to my phone while holding it above their head to see. They loved it and enjoyed being able to see their procedure live and also around the clinic. Basically, it’s like have a mobile set of eyes but it’s 10 times better because it’s a GoPro! Who doesn’t love the GoPro??

  13. Jenna says:

    As a pediatric dentist the office would need to be fun! iPads, photobooth and TV’s! I’d love to furnish the operatories with Mac computers, intraoral cameras , and isolite!!!!

  14. Mark H says:

    In my future dental office, I will purchase a piece of property my dad currently owns and build a three-story state of the art building. The first level will be my wife’s optometry practice, the middle would be rented out to another doctor, and the third level will be where the dental office would be. Being that the third floor is going to be around 50 feet, it is just enough for patients to see over the trees and get a glimpse of the crystal clear water and white sand beaches of Destin, Florida.

  15. Felipe L. says:

    In my future dental practice, I will use light colors in the decoration like white and green. Using a retro theme or about the 80s with an open concept with many windows to receive the natural daylight. If it’s not possible, use LED bulbs that can reproduce the natural daylight or similar. In infrastructure the walls may meet the requirements for a safety environment. About technology I would like the idea to give each patient a customize pair of glasses and headsets with bluetooth connection where they can see their email, watch tv or just go online. Also it helps to protect their eyes while I’m working. I dislike when patients block the light spot of the dental unit while raising their cellphones to send a message or to check a status.

  16. P Shukla says:

    My dream would be to not only have a state of the art dental facility, but also address the needs of my patients holistically. I would love to provide services to relieve pain and stress – I plan on incorporating a mini yoga studio, physical therapy consultations, massage therapy, and a med spa! I want my patients to feel like they are coming to a retreat when they come in for care!

  17. yaser shaheen says:

    the ceiling will be an aquarium

  18. Tory L says:

    I’d want to have therapy dogs for those with dental anxiety so they can help soothe the patients’ fears!

  19. Mary says:

    I’d want a wall water fountain in my future office!

  20. Beth says:

    I definitely want a lot of natural lighting in my office. I’m thinking of having a zen theme, and natural colors (green, neutrals) to enhance the ambience and make the patients more relaxed.

  21. Liz says:

    I like the idea of a dental spa. Manicures while you wait to get your dental work.

  22. It would be great to get a face lift on the office. I think change is good as long as you don’t make it drastic so the patients don’t feel it in their pocket book. You know they will think that.

  23. Colleen Greene says:

    Great post, Kris!

  24. Tyler says:

    I’d love to have a state of the art dental facility, but also have maybe a yoga studio, physical therapy consultations, massage therapy, and a med spa. All in one. Now that would be pretty awesome. Make my patients to feel like they are coming to a retreat when they come and see us! Now lets go and achieve this goal! (:

    1. I really love this idea. Something I definitely would love to try and do. Never seen anything like it before.

    2. Wonderful idea! I think many would love this idea. If you a day off, you could spend more time relaxing than having to travel to different locations. Go for it!

  25. Devin says:

    Cats. Everybody loves cats. Unless you’re a dog person, in which case I don’t want you coming to my office.

  26. Sarah says:

    In my future dental office, I’d like to live by the less-is-more approach, and make the dental office more of a dental “home” – open views to the back (without passerby traffic), comfortable seating, chalkboard paint, and skylights. With a brother and moth run interior design, and a father in architecture, anything can happen!

    1. Sarah's Moth says:

      Thanks for remembering me babe! Leave the lights on for me tonight, k?

  27. yaser shaheen says:

    I’d like to get one of these books

  28. Sandy says:

    Thank you for such a great blog! It’s never too early to start planning! I’ve been reading around about different dental practice business models and your blog really got me thinking. When I open my practice, I would like to have ipads available for patients while they are waiting in the waiting room. I also want to have a free child care service room/area with toys and children’s books. Whether patients are single parents or working parents, everyone is busy and knowing that someone is watching your child while you’re visiting the dentist will help lower one’s anxiety. In addition to the child care service, I once read to never neglect the celebrity/gossip magazines, so I will have magazines available as well! I also want a small library of books for all age groups as well! So many ideas!

  29. Austin Mielke says:

    In my future dental practice comfort and convenience will be a few of my top priorities. Going to the dentist usually isn’t anyone’s favorite thing to do….unless you’re a Pre/Dental student like myself or most of us here. I would want to have an area where kids/adults can use built in iPads to read, play games or listen to some tunes before their appointment. I would want soft chairs for my clients and several TVs in the waiting room. I would also provide Noise canceling headphones and nitrous oxide blankets for the clients while they are having a procedure or cleaning done so they can feel as relaxed as possible. Natural light and water would also be main components in my design.

  30. Matt Bridges says:

    My goal is to have a mobile implant unit. The Oklahoma Dental Foundation operates a couple of Mobile Smiles units. One of the programs they operate helps women former inmates with full dentures so they can enter the job force with a confident smile. I want to take that a step further and help these women out with implant retention of lower dentures. My implant unit would be equipped with not only all the implant tools, but also a CBCT to properly plan the cases.

  31. Zane says:

    My goal is to own a practice and a building built entirely around being earth friendly. This means the use of solar panels, geothermal heating/cooling, solar hot water, and by bring nature into my office by the use of large windows that can darken if needed. I would like color correct LED lights on motion sensors and technology that can put my patients at ease. The theme I would like is a modern day earth, fire, wind, and water.

  32. dmdgirl2015 says:

    Since I like to bake a lot, I think it would be very cool to have a little shop of goods that are delicious, yet sugar-free so that my patients can indulge a little after their dental appointment.

  33. Amy says:

    Of course I want an interactive waiting room and patient friendly operatory, but what I think everyone forgets about it what happens when a patient finishes treatment. Rewards aren’t just for our kids and pets – adults deserve them too! Anytime I left the dental office I was always rewarded with a trip to the corner ice cream shop, so a trip to the dentist was considered a good day in my book. Thus, my dream has always been to have a yogurt shop next door to offer my patients a treat as they leave my care! (Not to mention my staff will enjoy it too.)

  34. Quynh Nguyen says:

    I want this book!

  35. Jonathan Nelson says:

    Frozen yogurt dispenser? Love to have a copy of this book!

  36. Laura Nelson says:

    I would like to create a spa-like environment in my future dental office. Lemon water, candles and soothing music would make a relaxing and welcoming space (and hopefully reduce dental procedure anxiety)!

  37. Brittany Ko says:

    My dream would be to set up an in-house bakery in my office, in which I develop recipes for delicious baked goods using Xylitol sugar, and featuring gluten-free desserts as well!

  38. Ritesh Salvi says:

    I would love to have an office with giant posters of scenic beaches, rainforests, and forrests that he patient can stare at while under going treatment. Also I would love to have Netflix in each operatory for the patient to enjoy while waiting.

  39. Patty L. says:

    For my future dental office, I would love to have aquariums in as many rooms as possible, as well as furnish with real plants and have large windows to let in plenty of natural sunlight. I’d love to have a small movie theatre within the waiting area to keep everyone entertained and free of anxiety.

  40. Jessica Ma says:

    I’d incorporate google glass/ no-touch gesture controls for all my electronics

  41. Sam Saab says:

    I would like to have a huge fish aquarium in the lobby/reception area with all kinds of exotic fish!

  42. May says:

    I’d love to have everything really modern and digitalized, eliminating paper waste! So, some nice screens to load up documents, x-rays, and mockups would be so, so excellent!!

  43. I’d like to be a patient at any of these offices! Especially the ones with frozen yogurt and baked goods 🙂 Thanks for entering the giveaway everyone. Our electronic editors will pick their favorites soon.

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