Planning to open a dental practice? You must be excited at the prospect, but you should be ready for the tasking process of setting up one. Some dentists prefer constructing a dental office from the ground up, while others retrofit existing properties with cutting-edge dental fixtures.
If the latter, you save on lighting and fixture costs and the technology required in a dental office. However, the space may require extensive structural upgrades to transform into a dental office.
Whatever your decision, a dental clinic treatment area is necessary. It determines your productivity and treatment efficacy and affects your patient’s overall experience. As such, you must be careful when designing, setting it up, and making the finishing touches. Here are seven must-haves for any dental clinic treatment area.
1. Building Repair
The first step is to inspect the building to identify areas that need repairs. An inspection will reveal the causes of any defects and determine if they are repetitive in nature or a one-time event. Old buildings, for example, usually develop foundational problems due to moisture, solar radiation, or the scouring action of the wind.
Since most such problems don’t qualify as DIY projects, it’s important to enlist the help of foundation repair businesses. Such professionals can determine if the foundational problems are permanent or temporary and use appropriate methods to correct them.
They will develop a repair plan by first identifying the points needing support (usually along the perimeter of the building) and the best repair method. For permanent foundation problems, professionals can use steel, helical, or concrete piers to stabilize the foundation. You may liaise with a metal supply warehouse to deliver them at a fair price.
Steel piers provide a long-term solution for foundation problems as they go deep into the ground reaching the soil or bedrock to provide adequate support. They also work on most upper soil conditions and can support large amounts of weight.
Helical piers, on the other hand, are steel posts twisted into the ground to support the foundation. They’ve a helically-shaped point resembling a screw that pulls the pier below the surface. Helical piers can support massive weights of a building without reaching the bedrock.
The inspection may also identify extensive concrete damage due to bad weather, chemical attacks, construction defects, age, abrasion, or reinforcement corrosion. This means the concrete must be repaired before hiring concrete polishing services to create the characteristic high-gloss finish on dental office floors.
2. Fire Protection
Fire safety is another essential component in a dental clinic. Patients and dentists want to be in an environment that feels safe from fire hazards. Therefore, components like fire extinguishers, emergency exits, safer assembly areas, and fire protection sprinklers should be top priorities when setting up a dental space.
Besides equipping a dental space with fire safety equipment, dental care workers must learn when to use different fire safety systems. Typically, three components cause fires—the availability of oxygen, a fuel source, and sufficient heat.
All such components are readily available in modern dental clinics, increasing the risk of fire accidents. From isopropyl alcohol (flammable item) to spirit lamps (heat) , to gasses like centralized oxygen and nitrous oxide (availability of oxygen).
Dental workers must also know the emergency exits of a building to help them escape in the event of a fire. Fire safety professionals can perform mock drills and install fire extinguishers to sensitize them about fire safety and evacuation procedures.
3. Company Vehicle
You likely plan to use your vehicle for business to save on costs. However, you’ll quickly discover that your vehicle will wear out rapidly. As such, it’s important to purchase a company vehicle.
You can purchase a used vehicle from used truck dealerships to save on costs and record it in the company’s name to legitimize the purchase through the business. This makes it easy to take out a loan to purchase it and apply for tax deductibles.
The IRS defines luxury vehicles as weighing less than 6,000 pounds. Such vehicles don’t qualify for tax deductibles as they are depreciated over five years. As such, businesses using vehicles weighing more than 6000 pounds can deduct the entire purchase cost instead of depreciating it over its useful life.
However, you must prove that the car is used more than 50% of the time for business purposes to qualify as a deductible. This means keeping records of where you’re traveling to is mandatory. Business use may include driving to conferences, practice locations, supplier’s warehouses to buy and transport equipment and supplies, and more.
4. Proper Heating
Lots of people come and go in any dental office, hence the need to ensure there’s proper heating. The space should be comfortable enough for the patients while preventing the transmission of diseases.
The daily running of dental space also exposes patients and personnel to airborne materials, increasing the risk of infection. Although wearing safety gear like masks, eyewear, and gloves protects the personnel, dental equipment can transmit bacteria and toxins.
As such, air conditioning for dental is necessary for dental practices. It eliminates toxins and improves the patients’ and dental staff’s comfort. You can do this by having air conditioning installed. Modern air conditioning comes with special filters that eliminate air particles like dust, pollen, viruses, and bacteria.
Note that dental equipment generates a lot of heat; coupled with lighting in the treatment room area, the room can get incredibly uncomfortable. As such, you want to look for an HVAC system designed for dental practices.
Wall-mounted systems, for example, are suitable for single-room requirements, while ducted units are ideal for suspended ceilings. However, you can check out variable refrigerant velocity systems if you have a large dental surgery area with individual treatment rooms.
If operating the dental clinic near a conversion area or a restricted planning zone, you need to set up integral HVAC system. Such areas don’t need outdoor units making integral units the most suitable for dental spaces. It would also help to consult an HVAC expert to determine the best systems for such spaces.
To prevent your HVAC system from interruption during office hours, you can enlist heating oil delivery services. The professionals ensure your HVAC keeps running throughout the day without interruption.
Some businesses prefer automatic heater oil delivery service that ensures your systems last a season long without running out. And if working with a local company, you can rest assured that the delivery will be done promptly and on a schedule that works for you.
5. Septic Services
Dental offices must properly dispose of waste to avoid polluting the environment and freshwater supplies. Small dental practices can set up on-site septic systems, usually designed to handle domestic sanitary wastewater from the treatment room, bathroom, and kitchen.
However, the septic systems can only handle specific types of waste and must be cleaned regularly by a cesspool pumping business. Dental waste like x-ray fluids, dental amalgam wastewater, blood, and medications can’t be disposed of in a septic system. The ADA recommends recycling or shipping them to permitted recycling locations licensed by the Department of Environmental Quality.
Dental amalgams, developers, X-ray fixers, and other such waste are considered pollutants that can damage water supplies; hence, recycling is the best way to dispose of them. Amalgam, for example, contains silver, mercury, copper, and other metals.
The mercury levels exceed the required safety levels and can contaminate septic systems, vacuum pump filters, and chair-side traps. As such, the best way to dispose of them is by recycling.
6. A Property Manager
Managing a property can be tasking while running a dental practice. As such, enlisting property management companies on your behalf is important. The professionals can oversee the day-to-day repairs of the property, security, and routine maintenance.
They’ll also take care of taxes associated with the property and the legal regulations associated with managing the property. For example, some states have specific requirements for charging security deposits. Since the property manager is acquainted with the area, they will tell you the correct amount you can pay when renting the space to avoid getting overcharged.
A property manager will also help you identify your dental practice’s best real estate structure. They understand that dentists have unique real estate goals and work to ensure the space aligns with your financial goals.
Once you identify a suitable property, the property manager also helps you negotiate the terms of the agreement to ensure fairness for both parties. This way, both the seller and the buyer are protected from the risks of liabilities. The landlord gets a fair price for the property, and the buyer pays a sum of the property’s true market value.
Note that hiring property managers comes at an additional cost but also takes a load off your shoulders. In addition to the percentage-based management fee, you may need to pay:
- Management fee: Property managers often charge a flat fee for the services
- Maintenance fee: The professionals also charge a property maintenance fee. It could be a monthly charge or on a per-case-basis
Lawyers play a critical role in starting and operating a dental practice. Many people assume they are only responsible for litigating disputes and drafting complex legal documents, but their insight and guidance is incredibly important to your dental practice.
You need to enlist the services of a lawyer whether you plan to buy, lease, or rent the dental office. The healthcare industry is wrought with many regulations which can be challenging to keep up with.
Their insight into business law is imperative in operating a successful practice and protecting your brand. Lawyers can advise you on the type of protection your business needs to ensure all the aspects (trade secrets, business logo, local customer recognition) of your business are safe.
They’ll also help you determine if a contract needs a restrictive clause or not to prevent business partners or former employees from exposing trade secrets. It would help to have a lawyer to handle employment law issues.
Whether you plan to employ one or 20 employees, you must comply with federal and state employment laws in light of many amendments involving wages, employee leave benefits, and immigration. Experienced lawyers provide legal advice and can help you handle employment law issues like harassment, wage disputes, and discrimination issues.
By engaging a lawyer, you’re confident that a professional is handling all the legal requirements around buying a building or space so you can focus on more important issues.
They understand the nuances involving purchase agreements, partnership agreements, space sharing, vendor contracts, dental office leases, and more, allowing you to focus on work.
Lawyers also come in handy in the event of bankruptcy. You may get into severe financial difficulty due to heavy payments on delinquent taxes, equipment, and practice loans, leaving your practice bankrupt. In this case, you need bankruptcy lawyers to help you negotiate favorable terms and conditions when settling debts.
The professionals will also help you decide the type of bankruptcy to file for, identify the debts that can be paid immediately, and the property’s correct value. They’ll also explain the paperwork required for the process to keep you from missing deadlines. The lawyers also help:
- Determine if bankruptcy is the best option
- Explain how long the process lasts
- The assets that remain in your possession
- What to do after filing for bankruptcy
- The documentation required for the process
You have three options when filing for bankruptcy. You can file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy which allows the business to operate normally with a cessation of all debt collections and lawsuits. The premise is to allow the concerned parties to go to court to determine the best course of action.
The second option is to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy. This type stops seizures and lawsuits, but the dentists operate their practice through other corporations. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is only for individuals. The last type is Chapter 7 bankruptcy which allows the trustee to take and sell property (non-exempt property) to pay off debts.
The lawyer also helps you handle emerging issues during the process. For example, the court may issue an automatic stay, prohibiting creditors from collecting debts. Sometimes creditors ignore such directives and proceed to issue claims on the amounts owed. A lawyer can help you petition such claims in court to hold them in contempt.
When you decide to set up a dental practice, it means starting a new business from the ground and building it up. The whole process can be incredibly overwhelming, but these seven must-haves can make your work easier.