How to design a dental office: the technical guide with useful tips for correctly organizing spaces and functions together with a 3D BIM model produced using a software for engineers and architects
Planning a dental practice design project? In this focus article we’ll be seeing how to design a dental office to enhance the patient experience and improve an office workflow. Keep reading to discover our tips regarding dental space organization, with images, project drawings, reference standards and with a very practical example in 3D ready to download for free and use as a guide for your project.
Dental office design: the functional organization
Once the conditions of the available space have been verified, with respect to your local building regulations and your client’s needs, it is necessary to start planning the office layout to create the best work flows for the staff while guaranteeing quality service to patients.
To achieve this, interior designers should consider the following functions when designing dental spaces:
- a waiting room
- one or more service rooms
- areas for administrative activities
- separate toilets for users and staff
- a sterilization room with separation of dirty and clean areas
- rooms or cabinets for storaging used equipment and tools.
Firstly, it is necessary to take into account the different flows that coexist in healthcare spaces and which involve:
Not calibrating and differentiating these routes correctly implies interference, waste of time and lack of privacy.
On the other hand, to better manage flows, some design solutions provide, for example, a double corridor, one for patients and one for the staff on two opposite sides.
A more common solution is the use of doors that directly connect two or more adjacent rooms, allowing the staff to move from one room to another without passing through the corridor.
However, this solution also has some disadvantages.
An additional door would without any doubt reduce the space intended for furnishings or equipment and reduce privacy, being the passage a source of acoustic transmission between rooms.
Preventing intersecting flows allows doctors to enter and exit from one room to another without necessarily being seen by unexpected patients or suppliers at inappropriate times.
If there is sufficient space available, it is very useful to plan a room for coffee break or lunch, for both doctors and the staff.
Whenever possible, in all compositional / distribution choices for a dental office design, it is always advisable to:
- separate public areas (reception, waiting room, private office/consult, toilets for patients, cloakroom, etc.) from the clinical area (dental room, sterilization, radiographic room, dressing room, lunch break room, private toilet for staff, service room, etc.);
- provide two separate entrances for patients and medical practitioners-operators;
- allocate the reception at the entrance in a strategic position between the clinical and extra clinical areas;
- provide a large and bright waiting area to welcome patients;
- position toilets (including one for the disabled) close to the waiting area;
- organize the dental rooms according to clinical needs and close to the accessory clinical spaces (X-ray room, sterilization room, clinical photography area, plant rooms, supply storage, etc.);
- provide a changing room, a private bathroom for operators and a room for staff breaks;
- use leftover spaces to store cleaning tools;
- set up a plant systems room for technological equipment.
Technical choices should envisage:
- complete water, osmotic, suction, compressed air, electricity systems and data connection with internal network for each dental unit;
- sterilization spaces that are designed to accommodate equipment (osmosis, autoclave, sink, refrigerator, etc.);
- rooms or spaces for x-rays, with ray protection on walls and doors and any horizontal surfaces and with connections to the technical control equipment, special signs and an internal camera system;
- lighting system that ensures comfort and helps to reduce energy consumption;
- artificial light with illumination levels that meet standard requirements;
- intensity adjustment of light sources;
- low consumption and maximum energy saving sources;
- anti-glare lighting and professional lenses to improve visual comfort;
- cold lights for LED sources in medical environments and warm lights in waiting rooms, hallways, etc .;
- acoustic insulation system to insulate rooms from external noise and from noisy equipment (compressor and suction systems);
- sound diffusion in all rooms for background music (if desired) and a video in the waiting room (if desired);
- resistant, easy to clean, non-slip and not too rough materials (to allow wheeled stools to move).
The designer has the task of analysing various technical and regulatory aspects, such as:
- examining structural and organizational requirements that meet hygiene rules;
- analysing regulatory constraints (size of premises, light and ventilation requirements, clean / dirty, public / private areas, protection from ionizing radiation and from electrical systems, number and type of toilets available by number of patients and medical personnel, archiving, accessibility for the disabled, etc.);
- identifying the necessary construction practices prior to starting works;
- studying the individual functional environments in order to calibrate the most appropriate architectural choices (rooms size, solar radiation levels, sound insulation between rooms and between the internal and external environment, interconnections with other adjacent environments, type of materials, limitation of the radiological risk and noise from specialist equipment);
- analysing the necessary plant systems characteristics.
After consulting the reference standards, the designer must:
- analyse the organizational chart of the medical structure (people involved, activities to be performed, roles, interactions, etc.), the type of users, the planned medical-surgical activities;
- understand values, professional history and skills of the medical staff to identify the interior design aspects to convey;
- study habits, routes and flows together with interconnections between patient and clinical operators, deficiencies and possible improvements, so as to share positive and negative aspects of existing spaces (in case of renovation) or those to be designed (in case of a new building) with the practice owner;
- identify functional needs: number and type of rooms for medical and ancillary activities, strictly necessary or extra rooms, number and size of new specialist equipment and / or to be transferred, any arrangements for future changes in the use of spaces.
A practical case study
Here is a practical example of a dental office design that you could use as a reference for your project and that could support you from a technical perspective.
Let’s suppose we have an area of about 150 square meters on one level, suitable for accommodating a dental practice that is compliant with urban planning and hygiene regulations.
At the entrance there is the reception. The accuracy of the finishing elements characterizes this environment, since they will impact the customer’s first approach. Symmetrically to the entrance, there is an imposing limestone desk and, behind it, a small green patio that filters a zenithal light. The bush-hammered limestone coating, characterized by a polymeric coating with a raised surface and dark shades, highlights and contrasts the entire central block with respect to the surrounding space.
On the right side of the entrance, there is a waiting room, that has been designed to provide maximum comforts to patients through large bright windows overlooking the surrounding landscape and comfortable leather seats. From the waiting room you can also access toilets for users, that are divided by gender, one of which is set up to be used by people with disabilities.
The reception area’s side corridor leads to the dental treatment rooms, the X-ray room and the medical personnel office. These are the only environments that can be accessed by patients.
Parallel to the horizontal routes accessible for the public, the floor plan extends to staff only areas. From the entrance, in fact, you can directly access the office, the break room and the hallway that leads to staff services (bathroom and changing room), the plant room and the sterilization room. In this way, the flows of customers and staff within the practice are kept separated.
Another design expedient that benefits the premise viability is the use of the double access door. The lunch break room, the private office and the TR rooms, in this way, can be reached by doctors without crossing the corridor used by patients.
The materials used for the project are just a few but have outstanding features: limestone, steel, plastic coating, bleached wood for floors and resins for medical environments. This latter material is also practical for cleaning and disinfection. The perspective view within internal volumetric blocks is emphasized by LED strips that light up corridor walls.