How Dental Clinic Design can affect Patient Experience

30 years of Designing and Building dental surgeries.

The ‘patient experience’ commences from the second someone first interacts with your dental clinic.

Once a potential patient has gone through the research phase of comparing you with other dental clinics and decide to book an appointment, they arrive at your dental clinic and make the all-important first entry.

While this may not seem like an important step (as many patients walk through your doors every day), the first walk in is the most critical in the formation of a patient’s first impression of the dental clinic and overall experience. All before they’ve even been greeted!

Dental clinic design plays a key role in this first impression and will also influence whether a patient comes back a second, third, and many more times in years to come.

The little things matter

Creating an overall positive patient experience is made up of micro moments – small experiences that contribute a larger outcome. The little things matter, and attention to detail is what will separate you from other dental clinics.

What should you consider in your dental clinic design to elevate your patient’s experience? Put yourself in their shoes and consider the pain points customers are thinking about throughout the dental process.

Design with capacity in mind

Are there enough seats available? The last thing a patient wants is to walk into a crowded clinic with limited seating, stuck between two other patients to rub shoulders with while they wait.

Dental clinic design must consider your busiest operating times and account for patient growth to comfortably accommodate the amount of people entering and exiting the dental clinic.

Anxiety around public spaces has only intensified during the pandemic. Your patients are more likely to react negatively to feeling crammed and claustrophobic if they have to sit between people or navigate around others to get to where they need to be.

TIP: People will notice if you are trying to schedule more patients than your waiting area can comfortably accommodate. If you have a smaller dental clinic, speak to an expert on best ways to utilise the space to create an efficient, yet comfortable environment.


Your dental clinic environment should be designed to a) represent you and your values, and b) to provide a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere for patients.

When people think of comfort, seating is something that first comes to mind, but it is often an area dentists will cut costs on, to their own detriment. Investing in quality, comfortable seating from the outset can be a memorable drawcard for patients. At times when appointments are running behind, patients in the waiting room will be far more understanding and forgiving if they are relaxed and comfortable.

Other “comfort” factors:

  • Ensure there is somewhere easily accessible for patients to get a drink
  • Bathroom facilities easily found/accessible
  • Sufficient natural light if possible
  • Technology – TV’s, iPads, etc.
  • Natural elements: real plants, colour palette etc.

Patient Flow and engagement.

Stemming from capacity, patient experience at every stage of the process must be considered. From simple check-in, waiting, consult, treatment, and transaction. Consider a payment area for private conversations as to avoid the entire waiting room hearing what is being discussed.

A seamless flow between touchpoints reduces patient stress. The moment a patient doesn’t know where they should be going can trigger anxiety and potentially a reason not to return.

Your dental clinic design (as well as staff interaction) should act as a simple roadmap to naturally guide patients to move through the clinic with ease.

While we’ve mentioned issues surrounding the physical environment, factors like how you accept bookings can also impact patient satisfaction – before they’ve even stepped foot in your door.

Younger generations are digitally motivated, meaning their preferred method of booking is through your online website, and will often go elsewhere if you don’t offer this. While your older, loyal customers still enjoy the phone call booking, being adaptive and inclusive for all potential customers will widen your demographic and growth potential.

Dental clinics are evolving. In the past, they were a place associated with pain and anxiety. As a dental clinic owner or manager, it’s our responsibility to change public perception of dentistry by elevating the patient experience through strategic dental clinic design.

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