Michigan Endodontist Turns Sandbox into Sophisticated and Successful Office

Medema Endodontics - Caledonia, Michigan | Brent Medema, DDS, PLC

Dr. Brent Medema’s path to build Medema Endodontics was not typical for an endodontist. He returned to his hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan, right after graduating from residency, determined to establish a practice. What was unusual was the way he returned…he opened his brand-new practice inside an existing general practitioner’s office in Caledonia, Michigan. Dr. Gary Scott saw a glaring need for an endodontist on the south side of Grand Rapids—out of the 10 dentists near him. Although the other dentists in this small but growing village were initially unsure about referring patients to a doctor who worked inside a competitor’s office, they accepted that both Dr. Scott and Dr. Medema were genuinely interested only in expanding the breadth of dental services in the community.

Office Shell Offers Opportunities—And Challenges


Back-lit textured inlays are one of the doctor's favorite design elements, and they mark the entrance to the practice's operatories. Dr. Medema relies on his digital microscope, CBCT, and Schick sensors to capture and illuminate diagnoses to patients.

Dr. Medema’s plan was to build his own stand-alone office, but he wanted to first pay down some student debt and develop a sufficient patient load to support an independent staff separate from Dr. Scott’s team.

“I suspected I would need to work out of multiple offices to stay busy,” said Dr. Medema. “However, after a few short months, my schedule was full, and the practice was growing faster than I imagined.”

The doctor began seriously thinking about constructing an office by the end of his second year in Dr. Scott’s building. He had a strong relationship with Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant Amy Dailey because she supplied both Dr. Medema and Dr. Scott, and he chose Henry Schein to assist him with the new office build based on the strength of that relationship.

“I chose Henry Schein for the constant support before and after, great equipment, and great supplies for the office,” noted Dr. Medema. “They cover a lot of ground through one company, which made things easier, rather than trying to put all the puzzle pieces together on my own.”

Treatment room

Tying into the rich blue accents scattered throughout the practice, the A-dec chairs and cabinetry were chosen because of the doctor's satisfaction with the brand from his previous practice.

Mrs. Dailey introduced the doctor to Barry VanVolkinburg, Equipment Sales Specialist for Henry Schein. “The doctor knew he wanted to do something but was unsure of the move to make,” said Mr. VanVolkinburg. “I stopped in and simply asked him if he was ready—jokingly—and away we went! We scheduled a trip to A-dec shortly after.”

As the doctor evaluated different sites and options for developing a new practice, he realized that erecting a new structure would be costly, so he focused on finding an existing building to customize to his needs. Dr. Medema found a single-story building with a big upside—it was unoccupied, just across the parking lot from the current office, and it was competitively priced. The downside? There was no floor—it contained mounds of sand everywhere you looked. When he bought the building, he started from the ground up, literally!

“The shell of the building that I purchased was in existence for over a decade, but it had never been built out on the inside. It was just a sandbox when I purchased it,” the doctor stated.

Mr. VanVolkinburg recommended a contractor who was experienced in dental-office builds, and after a comprehensive interview, Dr. Medema made the decision to move forward.

Circular Workflow, Lush Colors and Thoughtful Design Accents
To develop the design of Medema Endodontics, Mr. VanVolkinburg took the layout of the building shell and met with Henry Schein’s Integrated Design Studio team. Designer Tracy Tock took a deep dive into function and flow and hashed out a rough floor plan before passing it to the architect and interior designer to create the layout.

Sterilization room

Set behind a glass wall, the A-dec sterilization suite was purposely set out in the open for patients to observe the instrument sanitizing process.

“The doctor wanted the flow to be a circular pattern,” noted
Mr. VanVolkinburg. “The office has well-zoned areas in terms of public and private areas and the treatment area.”

At 3,219 square-feet, Medema Endodontics evolved from the sandbox
Dr. Medema purchased into a sophisticated office, decorated in various shades of gray and white. It has four treatment rooms with two more to be constructed once an associate is brought on.

When they enter the office, patients are immersed in the sleek ambiance of the waiting area, where they are welcomed with a coffee bar and a comfortable seating arrangement that includes chairs adorned in slate and charcoal buffalo plaid. The carpeting is a crosshatch of gray and blue and is book-ended by textured wall coverings, all of which add variety and subtle color to the serene palette. Hanging lights in varying lengths draw the eye upward, as do custom ceiling tiles.

“Illustrations of clouds in both the waiting and reception areas provide a soothing theme,” according to Dr. Medema. “The hallways and waiting area have up lighting above the clouds for added effect. This is one of my favorite features in the office.”

Technology On Display

Imaging room

A Morita Veraviewepocs 3D cone beam unit sits in the practice's imaging alcove, providing excellent precision in a small field of view.

Upon entering the clinical area, the first thing patients walk past is the
A-dec sterilization room, displayed behind a full glass wall. Directly across the hall sits the imaging alcove, which holds a Morita Veraviewepocs 3D cone beam. The Morita model was chosen precisely for the image quality it affords in a small field of view. Mr. VanVolkinburg notes that it’s considered the “top dog” in endodontics.

“The design of the office highlights the technology as patients walk in toward the operatories,” noted the doctor. “They can see that we keep the sterilization area clean and they get a chance to see the CBCT technology as they walk in. The office flow keeps the patient treatment area close to the waiting room, while it is equally close to the doctor’s office, which minimizes steps throughout the day for everyone.”

Another favorite feature for the doctor is the inlays that are built into the ends of each operatory. Not easy to perfect, they are trimmed in stainless steel with back lighting and a blue, textured wall covering.

“It took a lot of effort to get it just right, but the result was well worth it,” said Dr. Medema.


Textured wall coverings, buffalo plaid upholstery, cross-hatched carpeting, and custom lighting all bring unique energies while blending harmoniously in the reception area.

Inside the treatment rooms, patients are seated in A-dec chairs, the same brand the doctor had been using in his previous office.

Team photo

From left to right: Max Beals, Equipment Service Technician; Mark DeMonaco, Regional Manager; Barry VanVolkinburg, Equipment Sales Specialist; Dr. Brent Medema; Amy Dailey, Field Sales Consultant; Tony Gierke, Equipment Service Technician.

“The doctor uses rear delivery; he wanted a clean image for patients,” explained Mr. VanVolkinburg. “He liked the thin backs on the chairs, the comfort and longevity, and the A-dec quality.”

He chose Schick sensors for chairside X-rays because of the brand’s sizing versatility, field-replaceable cable, and exceptional image quality. He pairs digital imaging with the use of a digital microscope and highlights the visuals on monitors inside each operatory.

“The network of computers allows us to show images in each operatory and really highlight the power of the CBCT while patients are sitting in the chair to help make treatment decisions.”

Added Square Footage Accommodates Emergencies
Open since June 2018, Medema Endodontics has continued to grow, and the added square footage and treatment rooms have been a game changer.

“The main area of growth has been the ability to accommodate emergencies,” Dr. Medema affirmed. “It is amazing what an extra chair can do for availability within the normal workflow. Because emergencies are such a big part of an endodontic practice, it has allowed us to be better at what we do and take better care of the patients we work with. No one wants to wait when they are in pain.”

Picture frameThe modern space is also impressive, and it reinforces to local colleagues the attention to detail and superior care that Dr. Medema has always provided, so they are more comfortable making referrals. It has also given him and his staff a beautiful working environment with a spacious lounge in addition to the peaceful treatment surroundings.

“It is great to have a space entirely dedicated to our team. The whole thing was built with our needs in mind, and you can feel that each day you are there,” said Dr. Medema.

Going forward, the doctor plans to outfit the remaining treatment rooms. He credits the entire team for putting him in a position to achieve growth and greater success. ♦