10 Tips for (practically) Stress-Free Operatory Planning


This is it. The moment you’ve dreamed about… opening your own practice! Whether you’re starting from scratch or upgrading an existing office, it’s important to have clear objectives from the start. Consider what you want to achieve: from workflow layout and efficiency to materials, colors, and equipment. The clearer your objectives are up front, the better your operatory planning will be executed.

Now take a deep breath, because this is the fun stuff!


  1. Find your inspiration.

Take a look at Pinterest for ideas. You can spark your imagination with thousands of practice design images from around the world, many of which link to helpful articles on the topic. It’s a great tool to see what you want from your space—and what you don’t. Not sure where to start with your dental operatory planning? We’ve put together a few of our favorites.

  1. Do your research.

Before making any decisions about equipment, it’s important to see what’s out there. Look at company websites and make an appointment to visit a showroom to test drive your options. You might find that what you thought you wanted doesn’t fit your needs, and something that you hadn’t considered better suits your practice style. Why not arrange to take your team with you to try out the equipment, too?

  1. Visit dental shows.

Buying dental equipment is a large investment that you will most likely only make twice in your career, so make sure you choose equipment that will serve you well and is built to last. And unless you’ve already done your research, always be wary of manufacturers trying to sell you equipment on show day: What might look like a good deal at the moment could end up being a costly mistake down the road.

  1. Talk to the experts.

Use Henry Schein Dental for your operatory planning needs.When you buy a high-value product, you talk to the people who have experience in that field. Buying dental equipment is no different. You need to choose an experienced, reputable company with a proven track record. A turnkey company will help with everything—designing the best operatory layout, supplying quality equipment and cabinetry, and supporting you with service and maintenance long after the project is complete.

Henry Schein wants to help with your operatory planning! Learn more.

  1. Ask for feedback.

Start with your current operatory, noting what works and what doesn’t. Talk to your team. Then, look at other practices. Would their layout and equipment work for you? What would you change? Your colleagues can offer recommendations to consider, too. The more insights you gather before you commit, the better.

  1. Find a layout that works like you do.

Think about how you currently work. Could you improve efficiency or ergonomics? Does the room design prevent you from working how you want? Research new options, not just what you currently use. Explore various dental furniture and sterilization center configurations, and think about ways you could improve materials management. For example, using a color-coded tub and tray system to organize by procedure, treatment room or team member could be a more efficient way of working for the whole team.

  1. Make a wish list.

Now that you’ve researched, it may be helpful to write a wish list of what you think you’re going to need and run it by your equipment supply company/dealer. They may think of something you’ve missed, or suggest something that may benefit your practice. Don’t overlook the value of good basics either: a stool that doesn’t support your spine properly, or light that isn’t accurate, could quickly result in chronic problems such as back pain or eye strain.

  1. Future-proof your equipment.

Of course, up-to-date technology improves overall practice proficiency, but it also makes your patients feel confident that they will receive the best care. Technology is ever-changing, so consider whether the new design and equipment you select will last ten-plus years, or will need updating in another five years. As best practice guidelines evolve, you’ll want to be sure that you can conform with minimal expense. That said, there’s no need to spend extra on unnecessary technology or an overly complicated product. Think reliability first when making a choice.

  1. Remember your patients.

The operatory needs to be efficient for you and your team, but look at it through the patient’s eyes, too. Consider their journey from the time they walk through the door until they leave. Is it obvious where they need to go and what they should do? Is the office calm, organized and updated? Is the chair comfortable and conforming? A comfortable patient is a happy patient.

  1. Allow plenty of time.

Make sure you order your equipment well in advance of your chosen installation date. Your supplier can help you plan this to make sure things run smoothly and without surprises on installation day. With this outline in mind, you’re ready to start planning. For even more information, here are a few educational CE courses you may find helpful.

Contact a Henry Schein Representative for more information on how to plan out your dental operatory.