Are decentralized waiting areas the next big trend in dental office design?

September 30, 2020

In a world where airborne pathogens pose a danger to caregivers and patients, the traditional dental practice waiting area presents new considerations for safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises staggered patient appointments to avoid people congregating, and placement of chairs six feet apart to provide social distancing.

One possible solution to consider: decentralized waiting spaces. The concept offers multiple benefits with minimal tradeoffs. The plan requires additional square footage, but the reduction or elimination of the waiting are can offset that space. The decentralization spaces accommodate new remote check-in procedures, preserve the traditional dual-entry dental flow into the operatory, and provide a specific location for guests to wait that is always within earshot of the patient.

How to make the most of the new opportunities

  • Immediately welcome a patient and family in from the exterior screening area to a private, controlled, sanitized room.
  •  Outfit this room with educational material, preferably digital. Provide information on general oral hygiene topics or those specific to their treatment options.
  •  Incorporate easily cleanable surfaces that can be sanitized with a few sprays or wipes between patients.
  •  Create a chairside checkout system to eliminate additional stops in a waiting area post-treatment.
  • Don’t hesitate to consult a design professional to ensure patients receive the care they need, and dentists and caregivers stay safe in the dental environment.