Form and a lot of function
How ambient technologies can make your dentistry better.
Technology abounds at the dental practice. From handpieces to lasers to cone beam scanners, there are amazing pieces of equipment that help practitioners take the best care of their patients. But helpful apparatus isn’t limited to the equipment used in patients’ mouths. A look around the office can reveal thoughtful and helpful design additions that can also help the clinician.
Ambient technologies are those products and pieces of equipment that improve functionality, efficiency and can help you do a better job. They can encompass anything from computers to stools to cabinetry.
For example, patient chairs—like Pelton & Crane’s Spirit 3300—are designed with ergonomics in mind, making it more comfortable for staff to reach a patient and for patients to enter or exit the chair with ease. The chairs also offer one-touch programming, allowing preset positions with a single touch of a button.
Dr. John Flucke, DDS, Dental Products Report Technology Editor, observes that computers are getting smaller and less obtrusive while being able to do more.
“I’m just blown away now,” he says. “We put a couple of new computers in my office in our check-in area. When we moved in, we had two tower computers. They were hidden away under the counter and the machines we replaced those with are about the size of two paperback books. It’s going to be the same way when we replace the computers in the clinical area. The size factor of that, the footprint, is just becoming so small that these things can go anywhere.”
Cabinetry is one area that seems fairly straightforward, but in reality, there is a lot that goes into functional dental office cabinetry. Crissy Treon, Midmark product manager, notes that her company serves dental clients with two lines of cabinetry.
“The Integra line is more of a steel structured cabinet,” Treon says. “Within that, we still do things where we do operatory casework, so we make the treatment stations, the central stations, the side cabinets that would go into your operatory, but we also make another line of modular cabinets within that line that can be integrated into sterilization areas, lab areas, even in canteens, kitchens and really anywhere throughout the dental office.”
Another line is their Artizan Expressions collection, which is more esthetically oriented wood cabinetry.
“We make treatment stations, central stations, side cabinets,” Treon says. “We also do cabinets for the sterilization area, and we also have cabinets within there that are freestanding enter also modular. We get into a little more of a specialty product, so we do things for the ortho market, the pedo market and we can do a little bit more custom work.”
Seeing a need
Many of these items might seem like standard, run-of-the-mill pieces of equipment, but in a dental office, a cabinet needs to be more than just a simple cabinet.
In 1994 Dr. Flucke practiced in an office that he leased in a strip mall. When he built his own office nine years ago, he knew that changes were in order.
“When I moved, I was looking at cabinetry in 2006-2007, and it had really evolved,” Dr. Flucke remembers. “The cabinetry piece of it had evolved to the point where it held computers and it was wired for computers. There were several different things to look at as far as, how is this going to let me practice? Where are the information pieces located? Can I get the screen where I need it? That’s the kind of thing we use everyday. That’s central to what we do.”
Dr. David Rice, DDS, is a general dentist in Amherst, New York, and founder of IgniteDDS.com. Outfitting his office turned out to be more involved than simply opening a catalogue.
“We flew out to the manufacturer for three days and, wow, both what I saw from a cabinetry and from the stool and chair perspective was really enlightening for me,” Dr. Rice says. “As a result of that, 10 years into owning all of that stuff, I have a really high appreciation for it. I would highly encourage every dental practice to spend the extra dollars, because the manufacturers have done so much homework on the ergonomics and the layout and the efficiency side that nobody can build the cabinetry or the chairs and stools [or] anything that resembles it. It just can’t be done. That’s why it’s so much less expensive to have a carpenter come in and do something that it attempts to mimic.”
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