Massachusetts Pediatric Office Makes Going to the Dentist Fun for Kids and Parents

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Village Pediatric Dental – Acton, MA | Linda Morgan, DMD

Kids area

Little hands keep busy with play tables and wall-mounted puzzles and magnets while waiting to see Dr. Morgan. A cozy reading nook draws children to bookshelves set amid trees perched with welcoming owls.

Many young children are afraid to go to the dentist, and that fear can remain etched in their minds well into adulthood. Recognizing this, Dr. Linda Morgan, a pediatric dentist in Acton, Massachusetts, built Village Pediatric Dental in April 2018 with an unorthodox approach. She carefully designed the office to reduce the anxiety kids have about dental visits by introducing interactive games and teaching experiences alongside quiet, non-intrusive technology that has virtually eliminated the need for numbing or noisy drills. Her little patients describe their visits to Village Pediatric Dental as “easy,” and parents do too.

So how do you build an office that makes coming to the dentist fun? One in which children hop right into the dental chair without trepidation and leave with a smile on their face instead of tears?

While working as a pediatric dentist in many different settings, common reactions she noticed were children with fear and parental anxiety. To address these and help the modern parent who wants to protect from negative experiences, she took away the intimidation factor by letting her little patients experience the dental equipment in a hands-on way at the beginning of their appointments.

Reception

Village Pediatric Dental has colors that are vibrant without being too intense, and the majority of the whimsical artwork was painted by the doctor herself in the comfortable waiting area and throughout the practice.

“I always imagined delivering dental care to children in a different, more personal way,” said Dr. Morgan. “I wanted to incorporate more education, hands-on learning, preemptive behavior-management techniques, compassion, and any technology that would make going to the dentist easier and more comfortable.” The doctor put a great deal of effort into researching ideas for Village Pediatric Dental.

“I traveled around the world for two years taking continuing education to see what was the latest and greatest in dentistry and to hear about what other dentists were doing,” explained Dr. Morgan.

After developing an in-depth business plan, she contacted a consulting firm to help with lease negotiations as she considered different sites. From there, she was referred to Henry Schein and Jim Hammon, the Equipment Sales Specialist who joined the project. Together, they toured several locations, looking for the perfect spot.

Sterilization room

The A-dec sterilization center adds sophistication and functionality to the walk-through sterilization room.

“Jim Hammon met me at the first location I looked at and gave wonderful advice,” recalled Dr. Morgan. “He knew his business and had a background in architecture to boot. His extensive background in dental office design and dental equipment, as well as his respect for my novel ideas were a tremendous help. He looked at multiple locations with me, did rough designs for three of the spaces, and was always there to answer questions.”

The layout she envisioned included an educational area for children as well as private, more personalized spaces.

“The dental field can be competitive, and I worked hard to find ways to stand out, be unique, and stay true to my vision,” said Dr. Morgan. “I chose to work with people who understood that vision and would help me make it a reality.”

Office Designed to Appeal to Children and Their Parents

Care room

In the Care Room, nervous children get to sit on a couch for their visit and “play” with some of the dental instruments to reduce their fear of the unknown.

The space the doctor ultimately went with was previously a day care center with very high visibility in Acton, a family-friendly community. The office is 3,500 square feet with six treatment chairs. Dr. Morgan was intentional about the environment created—not only making it child-friendly, but also infusing it with luxe finishes and amenities that would appeal to adults and children alike.

“Someone who is eight months old or 80 years old would be equally comfortable in Dr. Morgan’s office,” noted Mr. Hammon. “It’s a very tasteful, state-of-the-art architectural design space.”

At the entrance, the doctor purposefully integrated her branding into the decor. Anything patient-facing was carefully crafted with thought as to the impact, including the custom-designed 3D signage and geometric wall art.

The office has custom-painted artwork hung throughout—the majority painted by the doctor herself! The colors are primarily a creamy yellow and serene blue—vibrant without being overbearing. Owls are a common theme, perched throughout the space in artwork and on the wallpaper.

Treatment room

Dr. Morgan wanted the very best for Village Pediatric Dental, which is why she invested in A-dec operatory equipment and the Solea laser.

“There is a lot of color, yet the colors are warm, not to overwhelm,” said
Dr. Morgan. “The warmth also comes from the selection of paint brand. It uses more color ingredients than other paint brands and is lively without being too bright.”

The waiting area is large and open, and the traditional setup of waiting room chairs lined up in rows is replaced by plush couches, mid-century upholstered chairs, and rolling ottomans. Accent walls feature a friendly tree filled with curious owls that peer down on the kids as they read and play games in pint-sized seats. iPads hold video games and wooden wall panels beckon with puzzles.

For the tiniest visitors who may be fearful of their first (or fifth) visit,
Dr. Morgan developed an innovative area—her Care Room. This room is outfitted as a normal treatment room with some big differences. It features dental instruments but no dental chair. Children sit on a sofa with their parent while they learn about the instruments in a fun, interactive way.

Prize wall

The custom-designed prize wall invites children to choose a prize while their grown up handles check-out. Drawers with glass fronts give a sneak peek as they select from a wide choice of fun items.

“The air-water syringe makes a toy car go across the room,” explained
Dr. Morgan. “The kids make colored water and watch Mr. Thirsty, a clear saliva ejector, drink it up, and they make the prophy cup go around by stepping on the big shiny silver button on the floor themselves.”

After a visit to the Care Room most kids are so comfortable, they climb into a dental chair willingly.

“Dr. Morgan’s vision embodied both education and fun,” said Wendy Taylor, Henry Schein Field Sales Consultant who was part of Dr. Morgan’s build team. “Children are kinesthetic learners, and Dr. Morgan ensured that her Care Room provided an opportunity for kids to learn about dentistry in a hands-on environment.”

The office opened with three rooms ready to go, and another three that could be equipped as growth occurred.

Imaging alcove

The Planmeca panoramic X-ray system sits in a bright and cheerful alcove. A mirror lets patients see themselves which distracts them during the scan.

The four hygiene bays are divided by decorative glass, providing a sense of privacy, but also allowing the sun to filter in, and parents to observe more than one child at the same time.

The rooms in the hygiene area have neutral-toned A-dec chairs and cabinetry that were selected on a trip to the company’s Oregon facility with Mr. Hammon.

“Dr. Morgan wanted high-quality equipment,” said Mr. Hammon. “When she saw the options and the fit and finishes, her decision was made.”

When patients are finished with their appointment, they can visit the gigantic prize wall, which holds drawers of toys and giveaways. Child-Friendly Technology

As effective as the Care Room is in preparing some of the children for their visit, because of the technology Dr. Morgan has chosen, they quickly learn they have nothing to fear! Procedures are usually drill-free, require no anesthesia, and are fast thanks to the doctor’s new Convergent Dental Solea laser.

This revolutionary, all-tissue laser allows Dr. Morgan to complete 90 percent of procedures without local anesthesia. There is no pain, no waiting for numbness to occur, and many cavities can be restored in the same visit. The Solea laser is also clean, precise, and fun to use.

“I use the Solea CO2 laser for most of my restorative procedures,” noted Dr. Morgan. “I do not have to use a local anesthetic, and so the fear of dentistry is reduced.”

Team picture

From left to right: Jim Hammon, Equipment Sales Specialist; Caroline Crabtree, Regional Sales Manager; Dr. Linda Morgan; Wendy Taylor, Field Sales Consultant. Not pictured: Michael Molloy, Regional Manager.

She also purchased a NOMAD mobile X-ray system that she uses with Planmeca sensors. The NOMAD has made working with wiggling patients a little easier.

“The NOMAD X-ray device solved the problem of running out of the room to capture an image, only to find out the sensor was spit out or the child moved,” said Dr. Morgan. “It also helps alleviate concerns parents have about exposure to radiation, since there is less.”

“When patients and parents walk into the office, there is usually a ‘Wow!’” proclaimed Dr. Morgan. They often like to stick around after their appointments and their parents enjoy it there, too. So much, in fact, that they leave rave reviews on Facebook and Google.

The word has spread quickly; Village Pediatric Dental welcomes up to 30 new patients every week, and they are now receiving referrals from a large pediatric medical practice.

Dr. Morgan and her staff enjoy the space as much as their patients. With new spaces like the employee lunch room, ergonomic chairs, personal storage, and gorgeous surroundings to work in every day, her team enjoys the Village Pediatric Dental space.

“Because of the rapid growth we are having, we just added three new chairs that I thought would take a few more years to get. The time spent planning and paying attention to details really paid off,” the doctor concluded. ♦