Extreme makeover: Unveiling a new dental suite


There comes a time in every clinic when change is inevitable.

There comes a time in every clinic when change is inevitable.

Photo 1: Before the overhaul: change was needed.

Whether it involves relocating, hiring new staff or remodeling, change sometimes is essential to increase efficiency.

That time came for us at All Pets Dental (Weston, Fla.) about a year ago. Visiting the 2007 Dental Forum made us see that change was necessary. The 7-year-old treatment area had seen its fair share of cases, and unfortunately the cabinetry and equipment reflected it (Photo 1).

The cabinetry was falling apart and inefficient for storing all the instruments and products necessary to make the treatment area productive. The three treatment tables were falling into disrepair, one by one. At any given time, at least one was non-operational.

In researching cabinetry and dental equipment, I looked for three factors: quality, warranty and ease of installation. I wanted something that looked good and was going to last.

Photo 2: New equipment and casework arrive.

I started the process by creating a spreadsheet so I could track the information I was getting from all the companies. My goal was to compare apples to apples. I then found a contractor I felt comfortable with and who was readily available.

Photo 3: The clinic's old equipment is removed.

Considering I have never undertaken a renovation like this, the companies were knowledgeable and helpful throughout the process. In this case, a representative came out to evaluate the operatory area. Together we came up with goals. I wanted an extra work station and needed more storage space.

A carpenter built the cabinetry when we first opened. Unfortunately, most carpenters don't fully appreciate how much stuff veterinary practices accumulate through the years. It was comforting to know we had a team with specific knowledge and experience.

Plan for at least five weeks to complete the transformation in the dental operatory area, from measuring the cabinets to getting everything installed. (Photos 2, 3 and 4).

The cabinets we selected were made of polymer-covered panels that make cleaning up spilled chemicals and fluids easy and limit surface degradation. The drawers are seamless, so if any fluids spill in them, they can be cleaned out easily.

We sought drawers that were easily interchangeable, which makes remodeling and reorganizing at a later date simple (Photo 5).

Photo 4: New plumbing installed.

The most difficult time during construction was orchestrating the contractors. Our project required a plumber, electrician, cabinet installer and a certified dental equipment installer.

Photo 5: The installation phase.

The key to any makeover is to use space as efficiently as possible. In this case, it was all worth it, especially when you compare it to a restricting and non-operational work space.

Photo 6: After the renovation.

We are all satisfied with the upgraded work space. We doubled our storage space and completely transformed the treatment area. We've gone from three sometimes-operational dental tables to four powerful, functional and organized treatment tables (Photo 6).

We now have the potential to increase our caseload by 25 percent.

If you want to increase dentals in your clinic, you need to have a functional work space for optimal productivity. Do your homework; it will pay off in dividends later.

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