Dr. Jack Dillenberg explains the best practices for dental office design, highlighting: ergonomics, special operatory design, infection control, and microscope use.
Interviewer: What role does ergonomics play when designing treatment rooms at a school?
Dr. Jack Dillenberg: Ergonomics is a critically important science when it comes to dentistry and dental education. Dentists have to sit all day and they have to work with their hands in sometimes awkward positions. Ergonomics is the science of good posture, good positioning of equipment becomes critically important if we’re going to develop good practitioners at the very earliest stages. And that has to begin in the dental school. So ergonomics is critically important on where we place the equipment, on how we posture the dentist while they’re delivering the service that they’re providing. It is very important and becomes a critical factor in clinic design and particularly operatory design when we’re dealing with the doctor and the patient one on one.
Interviewer: What design elements can be incorporated into operatories for patients with special needs?
Dr. Jack Dillenberg: You know the patient with special needs is a patient is really near and dear to me and really near and dear to us at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health. We are the largest providers of special care dentistry in the South-West. And when you’re looking to meet the needs of the special needs patient while developing the skills of a dental student, the size of the opratory becomes critically important, the particular equipment within in the operatory becomes important. For example we want to have a large operatory, so that we can have family members, caregivers participate in the care that’s given to the patient. Very often the patient appears in a wheelchair, so you have to have a large enough operatory for the wheelchair and the person directing the wheelchair to come in and then transfer that patient effectively and painlessly and safely into the dental chair. Sometimes the patient is too fragile for that. So we like to incorporate a wheelchair lift where we have within a special operatory a wheelchair lift, so the wheelchair can be placed in that and the patient put back at 50 degrees, so that we can provide care. So there are a number of different elements that are required to produce a dental operatory that can help meet the needs of the special patient while providing the quality experience for the dental student. So they can leave that experience with a confidence and competence to be able to treat special needs patients in their practice.
Interviewer: What types of decisions can be impacted by infection control in the operatory at a school?
Dr. Jack Dillenberg: Infection control is a critical element within the treatment of a patient within the dental school environment. One of the things that is new and emerging that we really have to consider in terms of infection control is the utilization of the computer in the operatory and utilizing the touch-screen computer which today is becoming more essential and highly recommended for the dental school and building new operatories is integrating the computer with a touch screen technology that can be utilized by a clinician wearing gloves. In the past that wasn’t available, that wasn’t feasible. Now we have to be able to utilize a touch screen technology by an instructor or a student using gloves, so that we can maintain the proper infection control.
Interviewer: What is the benefit of using microscopes to support endodontics or other specialty programs at a school? How do you believe they should be mounted?
Dr. Jack Dillenberg: You know, the microscope technology in practicing endodontics is emerging and growing. We’re seeing more and more endodontic specialty programs integrating microscopic utilization to teach specialists. So they can see a bigger field and this requires dental schools that are going to bring on board these dental faculty that have been trained that way to have at least one microscope available for the educational experience of their students. You know, it’s to me the best possible microscope to have is one that is mobile, not mounted on the walls. So it has greater flexibility that can be utilized between different operatories. So yes, I think the microscopic technology for endodontic teaching and practice within dental school is important. It should be portable in nature and the reason it’s important is primarily because we have so many specialists now that are being trained on this technology and we need our faculty members to be comfortable in utilizing it in teaching our students.
Speaker: Jack Dillenberg, DDS, MPH