Dental Office Design – The Basics

June 19th, 2011

posted in Space Planning by


In our history, Varisco Designs has designed many dental offices and wanted to share and contribute our experiences with the medical designing field.  First, we believe in general that dentists are sometimes more willing than the typical physician to build a more aesthetically appealing medical office.  We believe this to be the case due to dental patients belief that physically appealing teeth is of utmost importance, this translates into patients who are conscience of aesthetics.

With this fact given, dentists tend to desire an office that is attractive and less clinical in feeling.  Finishes and Features such as granite countertops, stone flooring, hardwood wall treatments, soffits and ceiling variations, accent lighting, frameless glass doors and windows, and high quality casework area all commonly seen in the best dental suites.  In the medical field, the closest comparison migh well be a plastic surgeon’s office, where patients area willing to spend electively and lavishly.  These patients expect that the doctor’s facility will reflect the high quality of care that they anticipate receiving.  The same is definately true in dentistry.

Dental Office Basics

  • The movement of patients and staff in a logical, orderly flow.
  • The movement of materials and supplies in a logical, orderly flow.
  • Having the proper facilities and equipment at the correct location to perform the specific task at hand.
  • Providing a pleasant environment for both patient and staff to perform dental services.
  • Having adequate infrastructure to serve present and future needs.  This includes having such obvious items as adequate electrical capacity, adquate empty conduits for ever increasing integration of digital applications throughout the office, and a possible means of epansion.

Work flow and Layout

Efficiency is crucial in the mind of a dentist.  A dentist’s income is directly tied to production, and seemingly trivial details regarding the office plan and the layout of the treatment rooms are very big details indeed to the doctor.

Here are Work Flow Considerations dividing a dentists office into 3 major zones of activity:

  • Business Zone: Includes the Reception Area, Business Office, Consultation Room, Financial Room, Office Manager, and Patient Restrooms.  These functions should be grouped together, if possible, for optimum efficiency.
  • Treatment Zone: Includes Operatories, Hygiene Rooms, Sterilization, X-Ray Room, and either a darkroom or a digital processing center for imaging.  The functions should also be grouped together as much as possible.
  • Auxillary Zone: Includes Lab, Staff Room, Private Doctor’s Office, Storage, Dental Equipment Room, and Medical Gas Tank Room.  Unlike the Business and Treatment Zones, no grouping is necessary for the auxillary zone since these functions can be located where layout and spatial opportunities allow.  That said, the Lab and the Doctor’s Private Office may need to be in the main work flow area, depending on the dentist’s personal work habits and the office specialty.

Types of Dental Practices

A brief description of the different types of dental practices.  We will provide a more thorough description of each type of dental practice with medical design criteria for each on a future posting.

  • General Dentist: Most common,can do any dental work, but tends to limit treatment to routine exams, reconstructive work such as fillings, crowns, and implants, whitening, and other cosmetic work.
  • Periodontist: Performs surgery on diseased gum tissue.
  • Endodontist: Performs surgery on the interior root system of an infected tooth, most commonly known as a “root canal”.
  • Prosthodontist: Specializes in major dental reconstructions, typically of several teeth at once.
  • Oral Surgery: An Oral-Maxillofacial Surgeon performs extractions and facial/jaw surgery.
  • Pedodontist: A Pedodontist treats children, from about age 2 up until the teenage years.
  • Orthodontist: Provides treatment to straighten teeth.

About Robert Varisco

Robert Varisco has been involved in Medical Architecture for the past 12 years where he has worked on many acute healthcare and clinical projects for healtchare organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Hoag Hospital, Mission Hospital, and Cedars Sanai. Robert Varisco's belief in the utmost quality project, attention to detail, and client safisfaction is what he feels makes his projects a great success. View all posts by Robert Varisco →

There are no comments yet, add one below.

leave a comment