Take an honest look at your dental practice—does it feel welcoming and suggest gentle dental care? Imagine that you’re a new patient, maybe someone who is fearful or nervous at the dentist. Would you feel secure walking into your office? How about your waiting room? Does it scream corporate office? Or does it feel pleasant, warm, and positive? If you can’t answer yes to any of these questions, your practice needs a Feng Shui-style makeover. Successful practices make patients feel welcome and secure, and make them want to refer their friends! In this post, I’ll provide a few tips for better dental office design and a more successful practice.
What Not to Do
First, let’s describe the least ideal dental office possible: walls painted unpleasant colors—perhaps all white, or sickly yellow. The furniture in the waiting area is uncomfortable or shabby, and all the reading material is out of date. The receptionist is hidden around the corner and the only sounds are those of the drill beyond reception in the treatment rooms. The treatment area is painted bright white with nothing on the walls. The bathroom is in the treatment area, so patients and staff are parading through all day during busy appointments times. I think you get the idea—this is the type of dental office that creates dental phobia! But the opposite is also true. Through attention to the details in this cartoonish example, you can make real, manageable improvements to your office design.
Waiting Area Essentials
Some improvements to the waiting area of your practice are easy to make! Hang pleasant artwork on the walls, and bring in plants to give the room some life. Research shows that according to the principle of biophilia, even photographs of plants can have a calming effect on anxious patients. Keep your reading material organized and current, don’t be afraid to put last month’s magazines in the recycling bin and provide a selection for various ages. Install speakers and play quiet, relaxing music or nature sounds. If your furniture is uncomfortable or showing its age, switch it out for soft chairs or couches! If that’s too big an investment, consider throw pillows to soften the space or a small investment in new upholstery. What about the floors? If they’re cold and the room is full of harsh echoes, try adding an area rug. If you’re feeling ambitious, add an aromatherapy diffuser or a small fountain.
Color Color Color
Color is perhaps the easiest thing to change in your practice, and also has the greatest overall impact. There’s so much information available on color. Start by considering your audience—are you catering to kids or mostly adults? However, the guidelines are generally the same. The best colors for your practice are cheerful without being loud or stressful. The dream color, which is calming and evokes nature, is obviously green. Among young and old patients, according to research, there’s a preference for warm colors and shades of blue in medical environments.
In your treatment room, don’t subject your patients to boring white ceilings while they sit in the chair. You probably already have TVs for them to watch or at least access to music, but use a soft color on your ceiling to complement the color of your walls, or perhaps images or designs. If you’re feeling ambitious, paint the ceiling of the treatment room to look like a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.
Feng Shui for Dentists
Once you’ve read our advice, maybe consult a design professional for further guidance! Look at the winners of Wells Fargo’s Dental Office Design Competition for insight and inspiration, or consult the ADA’s design manual. Depending on your budget, you could hire a reputable interior designer, contractor, or architect specializing in dental practices, or perhaps even a Feng Shui consultant.
You already provide quality dental care, but making your office a pleasant place to be will boost loyalty in your patients and the success of your practice!