While it is easy to get caught up in trendy dental office design tips, the key to creating a successful practice lies in putting patient comfort first. By focusing on elements like a streamlined check-in process, carefully curated color schemes, augmented reality features, patient education programs, and engaging room themes, you can help your patients feel more relaxed and your staff work more efficiently.

5 Dental Office Design Tips that Ease Patient Anxiety

Up to 16% of US adults suffer from dental anxiety so severe that it can be qualified as a phobia. While their treatment matters a lot in putting those concerns to rest, so does the design of your office. With a few changes, you can help to reduce that anxiety and encourage proper treatment.

An online check-in process is one way to ease patient anxiety.
An online check-in process is one way to ease patient anxiety.

1. Innovate Your Check-in Process

In 2019, nearly half of US adults reported delaying dental care due to the pandemic. Dental waiting rooms can be anxiety-inducing in and of themselves. Add in the risk of a deadly virus and you create a perfect storm where patients don't get the care they need.

By updating your check-in process to make it more digitally forward and streamlined you can eliminate that anxiety and shorten waiting room time.

Here are a few tools to consider implementing;

  • Online scheduling
  • Patient portals
  • Mobile check-in
  • Digital forms
  • E-signatures
  • Self-check-in kiosks
  • Facial recognition check-in
  • Virtual waiting rooms
  • SMS notifications
  • Video chat check-in
  • Electronic payments
  • Electronic health records
  • Practice management software
  • Interactive education software
  • Online prescriptions
  • Health tracking apps
  • Telemedicine consultations
  • Patient satisfaction surveys
  • Queue management software

2. Tell a Color Story

Telling a color story is about more than slapping some paint on the walls. It is about selecting a palette of colors that work together to create a cohesive look and feel throughout the space. It can even be used to transition somebody from one area to the next.

For example, an office might use muted browns and earth tones in their waiting area and then transition that into greens and blues in their exam room. When done properly, the color can evoke certain emotions and help guide patients from one end of the office to another.


Color Red
This color is often associated with passion, love, and energy. On the negative side, it can also evoke feelings of anger or danger.
Color Orange
Orange is often used to show warmth, enthusiasm, and creativity. However, it's also connected to frustration and frivolity.
Color Yellow
Yellow may indicate happiness, optimism, and energy. On the other side, it may also indicate anxiety or caution.
Color Green
Green is often connected with nature, health, and tranquility. It is also famously the color of envy and greed.
Color Blue
Blue is the color most often used to indicate calmness, trust, and security. This soothing hue may also trigger feelings of sadness or coldness.
Color Purple
Purple gives the appearance of luxury, being the official "color of royalty." Unfortunately, it can also come off as arrogant or moody.
Color Brown
Brown is often used to attribute earthiness, stability, and simplicity. It is also seen as a dull or heavy color.
Color Gray
Gray is often associated with neutrality, sophistication, and professionalism. It may also evoke feelings of emptiness or isolation.


The key to a color story and balance is to look at those emotions. A pop of purple or red on a gray background can help balance out the aggression of the first colors while spicing up the neutrality of the second. Play around with color palettes to find a design that works for you and your team.

Patient Education videos prepare patients for treatment in a low-stress way.
Patient Education videos prepare patients for treatment in a low-stress way.

3. Incorporate Patient Education Programming

Patient education videos can be an informative, engaging, and low-stress way to explain procedures to your patients in a way that they understand. You can use these in your lobby or your exam room to prepare patients for treatment.

Of course, you'll want to select a lobby TV  program with a variety of content aimed at different audiences so you can make sure to connect with your patients. There should be videos appropriate for children, adults, and seniors to explain dental procedures, oral hygiene, and health.

This helps because patients can often feel anxious about dental procedures. Loading lobby TVs with patient education programming can ease their concerns by providing them with a better understanding of the procedures they may undergo.

4. Consider Adding AR Elements

AR stands for augmented reality and there's a lot of different ways that it can be used in your dental office. From helping you design the layout in the first place to creating a soothing and immersive experience for patients, there are dozens of AR tools to help you improve patient care. Here are just a few ways that AR can be incorporated into your dental office design.

  • Visualize office design: Designers can use AR to create virtual 3D models of the office space, which can be viewed through a mobile device or headset. This allows them to see how the design will look and feel in real time and adjust, as necessary.
  • Highlight equipment and technology: AR can be used to showcase dental equipment and technology in a virtual environment. This allows patients and dental team members to see and interact with the equipment before it is installed in the office.
  • Patient education: AR can be used to improve patient education by providing interactive, 3D visualizations of dental procedures. Patients can use their mobile devices to view the AR model and gain a better understanding of the procedure, which can help reduce anxiety and improve treatment outcomes.
  • Enhance office signage: These tools enhance office signage by creating interactive displays that provide additional information about the office, services, and procedures. Patients can use their mobile devices to scan the signage and access the additional information, which can help improve their overall experience.
  • Streamline equipment placement: AR can be used to streamline equipment placement by creating virtual models of dental equipment and testing different placement options in a virtual environment.

AR can be a valuable tool in dental office design, whether you are laying out the workspace or using it as an element. It can also be used as a tool for the next tip — creating themes for your rooms.

5. Consider a Theme

We most often see room themes incorporated into pediatric dentistry. These dentists may create rooms around circus or space themes to help put their young patients at ease. But why not update that for your adult patients as well? Different themes can be used to evoke feelings of serenity and make patients more comfortable during treatment.

A beach theme might be a good example. Using calming blue and green colors along with decor like seashells, starfish, or paintings of the ocean can create a seaside escape in your dental office. To make the experience even more immersive, you may consider adding the sounds of ocean waves or sea life.

If sophistication is your goal, a modern, minimalist theme might be the choice for you. Neutral colors like white, gray, and black can give a simple and clean appearance. Then you might include contemporary art to give the room an interesting element. The point is themes don't have to be just for pediatric patients. Think of the places that put you at ease and consider how you can bring that environment into your dental office.

These design tips create a relaxing environment for patients and a happier dental team.
These design tips create a relaxing environment for patients and a happier dental team.

How Design Improvements Help Your Dental Team

The dental office design tips listed above actually have a dual purpose. While every single one of them puts your patients at ease, they also improve life for your dental team.

  • Streamlined check-in: The process of checking in a patient is predictable, repeatable, and high volume. Computer software can automate these tasks so your dental team can focus on more critical, complicated needs.
  • Improved mood: If you think sitting in a gray office with no windows for a few hours would be boring for your patients, imagine how terrible it would be for staff working there 40 hours a week. Improving your color palette can also improve their morale. Of course, make sure to get your team's feedback before making changes.
  • Prepared patients: Patient education programming is a great tool because it gives the patients the base information that they are going to need without your dental assistants or hygienists having to repeat the same details over and over again.
  • Ergonomic improvements:  Augmented reality technology can be used to improve the ergonomics of your office, whether you are evaluating how instruments can be made easier to reach or how technology can be improved to eliminate uncomfortable tasks.
  • Organized by design: The use of themes is not just a fun element — it also makes rooms quite easy to identify. Someone who was told to go to “exam room 3” may not know their way. Someone told to go to “the ocean room” will know exactly where that is.

When it comes to dental office design tips, the key is to prioritize patient comfort. While flashy features may seem appealing, it is important to focus on elements that put patients at ease. This includes paying attention to color schemes, streamlining the check-in process, and providing informative and educational materials. Incorporating augmented reality and fun themes can also be an effective way to engage patients. By implementing these design tips, you'll not only create a more relaxing environment for your patients but also a happier dental team.

To help boost your practice's performance even more, consider Spear Practice Solutions. This combination of consultation and intuitive technology can give you the tips you need to design a successful practice.