Since the very first day, laughter has permeated the air. Whether it’s the staff, patients, or the doctors, someone always seems to be laughing and having a good time. We pride ourselves on having a friendly staff, and we all truly enjoy coming to work every day. Our dedicated and loyal team has been with our office an average of 15 years; many as long as 35 years. This family atmosphere translates to our patients as well.
We treat each patient as if they were a member of our own families.
Our mission is to provide quality dental care in a welcoming environment that fosters trust, comfort and kindness – a philosophy our entire staff puts into practice each and every day. We are committed to the oral health and beautiful smiles of our patients and the delivery of affordable dental services.
Our target market is anyone and everyone, so we knew we needed an office with wide appeal to all demographics. We also serve patients and families of all ages, many of whom are very busy in today's world. So having a central location with easy ingress and egress was of utmost importance.
Our patients are "average" in demographics. They are cost conscious in their own lives, so we felt very strongly that our facility had to demonstrate that we are also cost conscious in how we run our business. Our office had to reflect that we are providing excellent dental care, but we're not providing overpriced dental care. That is a very fine line, and we're proud to say we think we nailed it.
Design Criteria: Design Summary
Design Criteria: Dental Technology
We have never been the first dentists to incorporate new technology into our practice. We are very discerning about new technology: is it ready yet, does it still need further advancement, is it currently overpriced, are our patients ready for it, are we ready for it, and most importantly will it improve our clinical results or improve our patient's experience? Our patients appreciate our due diligence because they know we're not overpaying for unnecessary technology. And when we do incorporate it, they know we've done our homework.
Due to this philosophy, we're slow to incorporate a lot of new technology. But we do have digital sensors, a digital panorex, a Nomad portable x-ray, intra-oral cameras in every room, dual monitors (one for operator and one for patient education), and we're in the midst of a paperless transition.
We also offer text-message reminders and text-message patient communication. This has been a huge improvement to our scheduling efficiency!
We're waiting to incorporate digital 3D scanners until they become powderless, full color, plug-and-play with our existing operatory computers and monitors, and can be rapidly and easily moved from room to room without moving any additional equipment. We hope that's coming! We also refer most speciality procedures out, so we don't have a huge need for a cone-beam at the moment.
But these are advancements that our building is ready for in the future. We have large conduit running through the floors from every room to every room. We can run wires and plumbing to the rears, the foot of the chairs, the mechanical room, the technology closet, everywhere! There are redundancies built into our wiring for increased demands in the future. When any new technology gets invented, we'll be ready.
Design Criteria: Dental Equipment
Dental equipment was a central component of this build. As a chemical engineer turned dentist, I couldn't help but break down the competing companies' units, chairs, cabinetry, and equipment. I had to see the internal components, design, build quality, and ease of maintenance. After tours of two factories where dental units and chairs are manufactured, I decided to go with A-dec for our chairs, units, rear cabinets, and steri center. This was due to warranty length, support, and build quality.
Our general contractor is also a custom cabinet manufacturer, so they could identically match the A-dec finishes in counter tops and veneer. They built the side cabinets, uppers, and the tray prep side of the steri center galley. This helped considerably with controlling cost.
We finished 7 rooms with new equipment, brought old equipment for two "overflow" rooms, and have the files in the 10th room. Within 6 months of moving, one "overflow" room became a full time room, so we had to finish that out with new equipment. And before we hit our 1yr mark, we're already planning to finish out the 9th room with new equipment.
Each op is also plumbed and wired independently, so we can completely shut off each op without having to shut down the entire office if something needs repaired or replaced.
Design Criteria: Ergonomics
The biggest improvement was the switch from rear-delivery to continental-delivery for the doctor's rooms, and rear-delivery to side-delivery for the hygiene rooms. This has been a HUGE game-changer in regards to reported back pain throughout my staff. We have two hygienists who report less visits to the chiropractor, and I myself have noticed less discomfort at the end of a long day.
We also have a monitor on the rear cabinet, and a monitor hanging in front of the patient on a wonderful ICW ceiling mount that can be moved into almost any position. These allow the providers and the patient to see anything we want to see, in whatever position we're in. I thought it was excessive at first, but now I couldn't live without it.
Our business office is 3 times larger than it used to be, so we went from 2 staff to 4 staff up front, and that has allowed each one of them to focus more on specific tasks instead of doing everything all the time. That focus allows them to be significantly more efficient throughout the day.
One area we did splurge quite a bit was chairs for our administrative staff. We bought each of them a Herman Miller Mirra 2 chair with all the bells and whistles (almost $1500 a piece! Yikes!). In hindsight, if those chairs were $3k a piece, I would still buy them. Those chairs have made a world of difference for our administrative staff! Each front-desk staff member also has dual monitors, so they can perform main tasks on their large monitor without having to stop what they're doing to take a phone call or greet a patient using their secondary monitor.
Design Criteria: Aesthetics
Centrally located in the charming lakeside community of Sandusky, we wanted a building that reflected our lakeside roots. Many of our patients are boaters, and many of our patients spend a lot of time on the islands in the summer. So we wanted to carry this theme throughout the office both with the exterior and the interior.
The exterior theme was inspired by New England coastal architecture, utilizing the copper metal roof and Cape Cod style. Our office logo is a Great Blue Heron who's neck creates the "S" in Sandusky. This theme is carried through to the copper cupola on the roof above the entryway. And it even has a blue heron wind vane on top! We selected landscaping like tall grasses and bright flowers to lighten the visual appeal and keep the building from being imposing. The finishing touch was my wife and I walking the local beaches and picking up large pieces of driftwood to strategically place in the landscaping to set off the theme.
The interior colors of blues, grays, and whites are reminiscent of the coastal theme. We wanted a very calming, soothing, relaxing environment. So keeping the colors cooler and the theme more relaxed was important. The dentist can be an intimidating place, and we took great strides to make a tranquil environment. I play a very meticulously selected music playlist of contemporary music, but I make sure it's relaxing and soothing.
My wife was integral in creating this ambiance. The furniture was bought from a medical-specific company to guarantee weight ratings and commercial grade quality, but it doesn't look or feel medical. She also sourced all of the wall art and decorative touches from local discount stores and discount websites like TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Target, Overstock, etc. She was able to completely decorate the office from top to bottom for less than $4,000. We had professional interior decorators quote us upwards of $30k, so this was HUGE for the budget. And I think it turned out better anyway!
Design Advice: Dental Technology
Build a network! You need to have multiple professionals, multiple sources of advice, multiple viewpoints, and multiple plans in place. Go visit other dental offices. Talk to as many dentists as you can. Talk to their front desk, their assistants, their hygienists, their spouses. Find out every possible source of problems and identify them before they happen.
Budget according to worst-case scenario. Don't build a facility that requires you to increase your production in order to pay for it. Build a facility that you will be able to afford assuming zero net growth. This builds a cushion into your budget, and when you do grow, it's all gravy.
Let patients bid on aspects of the project! We had a patient who owned a painting company, and he was WAY cheaper than the painter our builder usually used. He saved us $4000! Same with paving; a patient's company did it for $8000 less! Your patients own companies; find out which ones can help. (Reputable companies only!)
The "Big 3" aren't going to like this, but I recommend NOT working with a designer from Schein, Benco, or Patterson. There is an inherent conflict of interest built into that arrangement; they exist to "sell" you stuff. Their designs are often heavy with expensive technology, expensive equipment, and products you don't need in order to be successful. Hire an architect who specializes in dentistry, a contractor who specializes in dentistry, and then pick your dental supplier using information gained from the designer and contractor. Those guys work with all the suppliers; they know who's good and who's not. We actually worked with Patterson (who we had NEVER worked with) because our builder and designer recommended them. It turned out to be a great working relationship. And our builder told us what products to flat-out avoid because he had seen all the problems those products created in the past.