Practice Planning: Five Common Oversights

Designing or remodeling your dental office takes a lot of up-front planning—and there’s certainly no shortage of advice to follow. But just as important are those things you may not think about. Here are five dental office design considerations to add to your list:

1. Plan for adequate sterilization.

The sterilization center is literally the hub of your practice. Unless you have an unlimited number of instruments, you’ll quickly discover that if materials don’t flow efficiently, neither will your stream of patients. Remember to include space for sterilization furniture. Choose pieces with efficient instrument processing and proper storage built right in, to ensure a fluid workflow that doesn’t backtrack or cross back-and-forth through the same space. (Hint: ordinary cabinets aren’t designed to prevent those inefficiencies.) Also, be aware that many dental practices are now choosing to make sterilization “visible” to patients, to show that it’s taken seriously.

2. Design your working environment first.

While the look and feel of your space is important in setting a mood, reflecting your personal style, and keeping both patients and staff relaxed and comfortable, don’t forget to budget for tools and equipment. If left as an afterthought, it can have a detrimental impact on your ability to practice efficient, effective dentistry. Look for equipment that minimizes movement and reduces the impact on your body, so you can stay healthy and practice longer. Plan your operatory with your (and your staff’s) long-term health in mind. Your back, neck, hands and joints will thank you!

3. Focus on the total cost of ownership.

Your investment in dental equipment will likely need to cover one or even two decades of use—and being too focused on saving money up front can cost you more in the long run. While initial purchase price is important, don’t let it overshadow consideration for the total cost of ownership throughout a product’s life in your practice. Make sure the equipment purchase price includes everything that makes it functional (sinks, faucets, power outlets and dental cabinet installation, for example). And before you commit to a purchase, talk with service technicians about the dental equipment they service most often, and ask them what they like and dislike about various brands. Downtime is costly; and techs can offer tremendous insight about reliability. (Another tip: Remember the old adage “keep it simple.” Well-designed equipment with fewer parts is less likely to break down or need servicing.)

4. Be consistent.

Keep operatory layouts the same from treatment room to treatment room. Standardizing everything from sinks and equipment to storage cabinets reduces training time for your team, reduces confusion and wasted time, and establishes a smooth workflow. In short, consistency equals efficiency.

5. Build for the future.

Leave room for your dental practice to grow. Think about what’s coming down the line and how you can be ready for it. If you’re building new, make sure you plan enough operatories for future growth. Plan your space for today—and tomorrow—even if it means leasing out your extra space for a few years.

One last tip: Have fun!

Exploring your treatment room options is an important step to remember when planning or updating your dental office design. A-dec’s interactive Inspire Me tool is a great place to start. Just choose your layout and dental equipment then apply your favorite color combinations. You can even request color samples right from your computer or mobile device.

Visit to explore the possibilities for dental office design.

By |2019-10-09T17:27:22-07:00April 11th, 2018|Dental Office Design, Dental Practice|

About the Author:

Kathy Rotramel, senior writer, has decades of writing experience with a strong focus on creating compelling content that resonates with readers. Rotramel has written many articles for the dental industry on topics including ergonomics, practice planning, efficiency, and dental office design.