Create space for deploying dental office technology

Dr. David Ahearn, DDS, founder and president of Design Ergonomics

By Dr. David Ahearn, DDS, Founder and President of Design Ergonomics

Productivity requires flexibility. That means the ability to perform any dental procedure, in any room, at any time. However, this does not mean you should stock everything needed to do any procedure in every room all the time. With today’s technology, that’s impossible anyway! So, it is time that we recognize that and move to an alternative plan for deployment.

Gain procedural flexibility, and space, in your dental treatment rooms

The most effective way to gain procedural flexibility, and space, in your dental treatment rooms is to mobilize expensive, less frequently-used equipment. So what equipment and materials are best suited for mobilization?

  • Your 10% procedure profile (The things you rarely do)
  • Procedures with lots of bulk (e.g., Ortho, Sedation, Implants)
  • Same–day procedure technology (e.g., air abrasion, Perio laser)
  • New or experimental items (e.g., hard tissue lasers)

A proven way to approach this strategy is by using carts specifically designed for the health-care industry, rather than a run-of-the-mill “office” cart which do not stand up to the hard use in health care. These units will typically offer the following value:

  • Greater stability
  • Non-porous, solid surfaces for disinfection
  • Capacity for industry-standard items (e.g., Zirc and Mega Tubs)
  • Electrical connections for high-tech equipment
  • Dimensions suited to the confines of a medical environment

The “mobile bay” at Dean Dental allows for rapid deployment of technology. Note that two of the office’s Rapidcarts are “checked out” and in use in treatment rooms.

A well-designed cart can have a footprint as small as one-and-a-half feet wide by two feet deep, but still offer all the benefits listed above. This makes it possible for older practices to find space for them, and allows navigation around confined and/or busy clinical areas.

With all of that said, I have an admission. When I started my first practice I was broke, so, I bought an inexpensive cart from an office supply store. I had figured out that I shouldn’t duplicate expensive technology that I rarely used, but my purchase was otherwise pretty short-sighted. The wheels squeaked, then wobbled, and then failed. And the cart intended for file folders started to delaminate pretty quickly in my dental office. My frustration with this experience led me to design and manufacture my own line of RapidCarts. There are other carts that will probably work, but to this day, no one has spent the money to create something as strong and durable (Without having it look like a Craftsman® tool box!). The most important thing is just to embrace the philosophy behind mobilization.

Integrate mobilization into your dental office floor plan

Whatever cart (or carts) you decide on, they will need a home in your office. Ideally, you should “park” them in a central location outside of the treatment rooms where they will be easy to access and deploy to set up for any procedure throughout your treatment rooms. To this end, we typically incorporate “mobile bays” into our designs (see example below). To present a clean, uncluttered look, we design these bays as recesses – often with storage above, so they fade into their surroundings.

Forever Smiles seamlessly integrates mobilized technology

Depending on the size of your practice, you may require one bay or several (see example below).

Whether it’s a crown-turned-root-canal in the middle of your schedule in Room 3 or a hygienist getting a commitment to same–day air abrasion, the need to transition deliverables on the fly can be a very common occurrence. By turning what would cause most dental offices very real and stressful problems into opportunities, you gain a significant advantage over the competition. Your patients will love your ability to accommodate their needs, your staff will love the ease with which these changes are handled and, last but not least, you will undoubtedly enjoy the increased production that occurs as a result.


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Dr. David Ahearn, DDS, founder and president of Design Ergonomics
Dr. David Ahearn, DDS, Founder and President of Design Ergonomics and Ergonomic Products. To learn a little more about my journey in dentistry, and other principles you can apply to make your practice a fun, easy, and productive place to work, take a look at our This Can All Be Easierplaylist on YouTube. If you enjoy these videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel at Turn on notifications to receive our latest video updates.