Luxury Amenities, Technology Drive Success of North Carolina Office

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Renaissance Dental Studio – Wilmington, North Carolina | Sarah Pless, DDS

Reception area

Consultation room

Opulent wallpaper, sparkling sconces, chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling windows draw in the outdoors and blankets the doctor and patients in luxury as they discuss treatment plans.

After 10 years as a partner in a dental office, Dr. Sarah Pless took a year off after welcoming her second child. Over those 12 months, she thought a lot about her desire to work closer to home, find family/work balance, and build her own business and provide patients with a totally unique type of experience. In January 2018, she opened Renaissance Dental Studio in Wilmington, North Carolina, and it has delivered on every one of her objectives. It’s near her house; it’s luxurious but inviting to children, including her own; and it makes use of the best of technology, which has made practicing more enjoyable for the doctor, while also wowing her patients.

Spacious Location Checks All the Boxes

Renaissance Dental Studio is in an excellent location, but interestingly, it wasn’t Dr. Pless’ first choice. She had identified another site that seemed ideal, even though the space was going to be a bit of a tight fit. It fell through, and as fate would have it, another space, which was 800 square feet larger, more visible from the street, and even closer to her home, opened instead! As she said, “it ticked all of the boxes!” It would allow her to incorporate the technology she desired and make room for additional providers who could eventually share her patient load and schedule.

Dr. Pless was introduced to Brandon Brooks, Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist, through a shared business contact. Within two days, Mr. Brooks had drafted a proposal that fit with the doctor’s hopes and dreams for her new practice. Dr. Pless recalls that the Henry Schein team’s enthusiasm for her ideas was obvious.

Kids area

Even the children’s area offers a cultured, refined environment, with white walls flanked by a whimsical wallpaper and dotted with black and white artwork of caped heroes above the gaming iPads.

“Henry Schein immediately shared my excitement about my vision to differentiate on patient experience,” said Dr. Pless. “I left our first meeting even more excited about my plans! They introduced some brands, like Midmark and Planmeca, that I hadn’t considered or known about, but that fit the model even better than the ones I’d always imagined choosing.”

The 2,673 square-foot office is devoted to providing a top-notch patient experience, and that’s immediately clear from the moment a patient enters.

“My design team really knocked it out of the park!” exclaimed Dr. Pless. “The finishes are delightful and inviting. It has a soft, clean finish—we were really going for the least clinical feel we could manage, almost like you’re at home.”

When patients enter the Reception area, it’s entrancing, with walls covered in metallic, grass-cloth wallpaper and large floral prints displayed above a plush sofa. Contemporary tables in glass and metal, modern light fixtures including spiked chandeliers, and abundant gold accents throughout contrast with dark wood floors that warm up the modern aesthetic. Thick white molding adds a clean, residential feel to the office. Even the children’s area is chic, with wallpaper dotted with abstract birds alongside eye-catching minimalistic art.

Hallway with planmill

The Planmeca Emerald scanner is mobile, comfortable, and precise, capturing digital impressions that are sent to the mill for same-day restorations. The Planmeca PlanMill 40 S is placed in the hallway so patients can place their own ingot of porcelain!

“We have a children’s playroom, selfishly for my two little ones who drop in on us pretty often. It’s loaded with toys and books, Netflix, and iPads so kids of all ages can usually find something to entertain them for the hour. We have a dedicated child helper who comes in several mornings each week to help look after patients’ children in case they don’t have childcare options.”

Treatment room

Each treatment room is tranquil, with soft monochromatic colors and a heated massage chair. The operatories are universally equipped to provide hygiene and restorative care, allowing patients to stay in one room for any procedure.

The office uses Dentrix practice management, and it integrates with all the clinical technology as well as the phone system, thanks to the work of the Henry Schein TechCentral team, who designed and installed the networking infrastructure and equipment.

Clinical Area Is Private Yet Open

The hallway leading to the treatment area is awash in pure white, with subtle patterns in the wallpaper that lines its route, and durable vinyl flooring. Center cabinetry consoles, from Midmark’s Artizan Expressions line, separate the five serene operatories. The doctor also selected Midmark Elevance chairs, delivery units, and LED exam lights, after a visit to the factory.

Mr. Brooks remembered some of the key factors that led to the doctor’s selection of Midmark equipment: she was happy with the build quality and their sleek look; she liked that the company is a family-owned business and their products are built in the United States; and she was impressed with the high ratio of women working in the company.

12 o'clock cabinetry in treatment room

Patients are pampered in Midmark chairs which are heated and offer a massage feature. TVs and noise-cancelling headphones envelop them in a distracting entertainment, and the monitors can also double as venues for displaying their digital X-rays.

“To help distract from the usual dental surroundings in the operatory, we purchased Midmark’s heated massage chairs as well as noise-cancelling headphones and TVs, of which patients have total control,” said Dr. Pless. “I love our center-console-divided operatories. They are just private enough for patients but allow us to feel united as a team. We can keep overhead down on some shared items that can be accessed via either room through the console.”

Mr. Brooks recommended that the operatories be equipped with both hygiene and restorative equipment, so any procedure can be performed while the patient is in the same operatory, allowing the practice to operate at full productivity and efficiency. Chairside, the doctor invested in KaVo electric handpieces and ACTEON intraoral cameras. The practice also purchased a mobile NOMAD Pro 2 intraoral X-ray unit and DEXIS Platinum sensors.

Digital, Digital, Digital

The doctor understood that delivering an over-the-top patient experience unique from other offices required a significant technology investment in digital imaging, and her office is certainly a case study in incorporating cutting-edge digital equipment.

“So much of our daily lives have been transformed by technology, and a trip to the dental office should reflect that,” explained Dr. Pless. “Therefore, we went full bore on equipment and technology.”

The doctor traveled to Texas with Mr. Brooks to visit the Planmeca facility and was impressed with the ProMax 3D cone beam imaging unit.

PlanMill 40 S

Adding CAD/CAM and same-day dentistry has actually led other dentists to refer patients to Dr. Pless. Here, a patient places in the mill the ingot of porcelain that will become her crown.

“I can’t wait to start placing implants, because using the cone beam with Planmeca Romexis will make that a breeze,” explained the doctor.

Another key piece of technology Dr. Pless added to her repertoire and services is CAD/CAM. She selected the Planmeca Emerald scanner, 40 S milling unit, and an Ivoclar CS4 oven for her office.

“We built out a special location for the CAD/CAM milling unit so patients can place the ingot of porcelain themselves and watch the milling process—this is also a big hit!”

The addition of same-day dentistry has been powerful for the office and has also led to referrals from other doctors.

Imaging area

The Planmeca ProMax 3D cone beam is part of the doctor’s robust investment in digital imaging. The doctor can now place implants thanks to the precision the cone beam offers along with the Romexis software.

Coffee area

The year-long sabbatical from practicing dentistry helped the doctor fine-tune her own office wish list. One of those items is this beverage station, which offers patients a delicious local tea from a café she frequented during her time off.

“Fewer appointments means happier patients,” confirmed Dr. Pless. “The predictability of having a final restoration delivered the same day makes both patient and doctor happy since there aren’t temporary crown surprises after hours. I’ve actually had a local colleague’s office call us to do a CAD/CAM restoration for their patient who travels frequently for work. She is coming back to do four more crowns in one day due to her tough work-travel schedule!”

The doctor’s attention to the physical design and décor of the office, as well as the warm, caring staff, has led to glowing patient reviews. Renaissance Dental Studio is welcoming 60 new patients each month, and many remark that the office is unlike any they’ve ever seen.

“We want patients to want to come to the dentist, and I think we are achieving that.”

Mr. Brooks is very happy with the way the office turned out, as well. Not only was the build very smooth, but through the planning and construction process, he’s grown a solid friendship with the doctor.

Dental sterilization area

The sterilization area is open to the rest of the practice and maintains the same crisp efficiency in both form and function found in the rest of the practice. Dr. Pless utilizes a Midmark M11 autoclave to keep things running smoothly.

“Henry Schein has the goods that I wanted, but the relationships I formed with the people who went through this entire experience, from meeting to opening my doors, will stick with me,” declared Dr. Pless. “They bring a wealth of knowledge and some great inside-industry tips for ways I can best maximize the technology’s efficiencies.”

Looking ahead, the doctor plans to add more providers as her patient load grows.

Team portrait

From Left to Right: Brandon Brooks, Equipment Sales Specialist; Dr. Sarah Pless. Not pictured: Bill Johel, Regional Manager.

“Obviously, the punch list of a new start-up owner is pretty lengthy, but I love spending time here,” concluded Dr. Pless. “My kids can come and hang out in the playroom when I’m finishing phone calls and notes at the end of the workday. The mixed-use facility we’re in features an outdoor pool and rooftop deck so our staff enjoys being able to use those facilities on breaks. The clinical staff is really stretching their minds (me included!) to learn all of the features of the new technology, which I think is pivotal to maintaining an ambitious, driven staff. We get a lot of compliments from our patients on how comfortable the space is, which sets my heart on fire. That’s exactly what I was going for!” ♦


Practice Summary

Renaissance Dental Studio Square Feet: 2,673
Wilmington, North Carolina Treatment Rooms: 5
Sarah Pless, DDS Practice Opened: January 2018

Originally published in Sidekick Magazine.