With more adults being referred for orthodontic care, it's necessary to create an office that is welcoming not only for children, but for older patients, as well.
The first thing your patients notice when they walk into your practice is the design. With that in mind, use these office design techniques to make your practice feel more welcoming for patients of all ages.
Filling an orthodontics office with toys, video games and family-friendly movies may be a hit for kids. However, the approach does not provide key conveniences for adult patients, who account for one in four of the orthodontic patients in the U.S., according to the American Association of Orthodontists.
“Most ortho practices are set up to be efficient for providers, and attractive to children and adolescents, who are generally their target market,” said Spear Resident Faculty member Dr. Cheryl DeWood.
After 22 years in private practice as a general practitioner, Dr. DeWood chose to pursue an education and career in orthodontics.
Based on her experience as a practicing orthodontist since 2005, Dr. DeWood learned that an office designed around child-like elements fails to make adult patients feel welcome.
“This type of set-up emphasizes a ‘fun’ or juvenile atmosphere and is generally lacking in adult amenities, including private treatment areas,” Dr. DeWood said. “For GPs who are looking to refer adults, this isn't very appealing.”
“I have been telling my colleagues for years that they are missing a growing part of the ortho market by limiting their ability to accommodate adult patients,” she said.
For example, the ADA Marketplace blog recommends that “stacks of magazines, books or newspapers can help keep the adults happily preoccupied.”
The ADA also encourages having soothing music playing in the office and access to refreshments like coffee and tea.
Effective use of color and light
The color scheme you pick for your practice can have a significant psychological impact on your patient. According the ADA Center for Professional Success, utilizing bright and bold colors like red and yellow can cause your patient's anxiety to rise, whereas shades like sky blue or cool-toned purples can have more of a relaxing or cheerful effect.
Orange, the complement to blue on the color wheel, can be used for smaller touches in an orthodontics office for a bright accent. But if orange is used too much, it can be overstimulating.
Industry experts also recommend adding a few lamps with warm bulbs to your office to create a sunny, inviting space, or swapping out old light fixtures for lamps with a modern look for a fresh, new atmosphere.
Reduce stress with aquariums
It's no accident that fish tanks are utilized in numerous dental and health care offices.
A 2015 U.K. study by the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University and the University of Exeter found that viewing an aquarium display led to lower blood pressure, lower heart rate and an improvement of mood, and these benefits increase as the number of fish increase.
The study says that “an individual does not need to spend long in front of an (aquarium), just five minutes, to derive significant benefits.”
The ADA Marketplace blog adds that aquariums can be particularly helpful for offices that have pediatric patients but can decrease stress in patients of all ages.
According to the ADA, “not every aquarium has to have the grandeur (or price tag) of a 1,000-gallon tank. A simple tank is a great tool for keeping people calm as the colors, lights and animal life provide a healthy distraction from stress.”