Dont fight your dental equipment

August 23, 2019
Brendan Howard, Business Channel Director

Brendan Howard oversees veterinary business, practice management and life-balance content for dvm360.com, dvm360 magazine, Firstline and Vetted, and plans the Practice Management track at all three Fetch dvm360 conferences.Brendan has proudly served under the Veterinary Economics and dvm360 banners for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked as a journalist, writer and editor at Entrepreneur magazine and a top filmed entertainment magazine in Southern California. Brendan received a Masters in English Literature from University of California, Riverside, in 1999.

dvm360, dvm360 February 2020, Volume 51, Issue 2

A roomier, better equipped space for dental procedures in your veterinary hospital can inspire team members to do more of them, according to speakers at HospitalDesign360 conference.

The dental suite at Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, the 2018 dvm360 Hospital Design Competition Specialty Hospital of the Year. (Photo by Tim Murphy, Murphy Foto Imagery.)

You have a space for dental procedures, but does it inspire the veterinary team?

If you have a little cash to remodel, renovate or build a new a dental suite in your hospital, Ashley Shoults, AIA, with Animal Arts in Boulder, Colorado, told HospitalDesign360 conference attendees in a sponsored morning session that you want a space and equipment that says, “This is important. You want to show this to clients and help them understand these are not minor procedures.”

Here are a few tips to keep in mind, courtesy of Shoults and Danielle Heberle, CVT, VTSH-Dentistry, with Midmark:

  • Only got an alcove? Yes, in an ideal world, you have a dedicated room for dental procedures. But if an alcove is all you have, Shoults says 9 feet across (the length that will include the long end of your procedure table) is the minimum. You're hoping for five feet on both sides of the table near the head, where the action happens, and three feet at the head around the table minimum. Don't forget the space for the basics: dental delivery unit, monitor, anesthesia unit, lighting, seating and room for staff members to move. If you're strapped for space, keep those units mobile or stick them to a wall where they won't interfere with procedures on the table.

  • Watch your ergonomics. Heberle talked up the need for room for the knees of the team working. That means a space cut away at the head of the table or an adjustable lift table that can make that space. “We want both feet to be planted on the floor,” Heberle told attendees, not split uncomfortably in a corner. And, folks, “eye loupes are starting to be a must,” she says. If your veterinarians and veterinary technicians are still hunching over dental patients, get your team used to the better posture that comes with magnifying and lit loupes.

  • But what about safety? If you like AAHA guidelines, Heberle reminded attendees that they call for full-mouth radiographs on every dental patient. That means radiograph safety comes into the picture. Shoults says your best bet-and a requirement in some states-is a study by a physicist for roughly $500. That expert will need to know the layout, the radiograph volume in your practice and your unit's model and specifications. The expert will tell you whether you need no shielding, little shielding or a lot of shielding.

No matter how you configure or reconfigure your veterinary hospital's dental space, remember to make it easier on team members to perform dental work so they're more enthused and less frustrated.

“You don't want to have to be fighting equipment at that point of care,” Heberle says. Equip your space, make sure your space is comfortable to work, and then educate your team on the importance of procedures and getting your hospital's dental care up to snuff. There's money and healthier patients in it for everyone.

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