Carter Dr Jeff And Pat De October 2013 Image Interior 4 Use Online

Design updates in the dental office

Oct. 18, 2013
Just as material and technology advancements have impacted dental procedures and the restoration possibilities for the patient, product options in the design "toolbox" have been advancing at equal pace.

Jeff Carter, DDS, and Pat Carter, IIDA

Just as material and technology advancements have impacted dental procedures and the restoration possibilities for the patient, product options in the design "toolbox" have been advancing at equal pace. Recently, a client exclaimed, "I had no idea porcelain tile could look like travertine!" It was a reminder that noting the advancements in products would be a viable topic to share here. Two areas -- flooring and lighting -- have perhaps made the largest impact on our ability to meet performance and esthetics expectations.


HDP porcelain
HDP porcelain is an advancement that utilizes a technically advanced glazing system -- digital printing. Similar to a television screen image, stone or wood pattern graphics on HDP are made up of millions of dots of color (ROTO color), resulting in a high-definition (HD) tile pattern. The result is a highly improved natural look esthetic to the screen-printed one color, glaze technique that kept us away from porcelain except as a performance design solution. Both stone and wood HDP has become the preferred choice to their "real" stone and wood counterparts in the dental office.

Luxury vinyl
Vinyl flooring has expanded on both performance and esthetics fronts. The now deemed "luxury" vinyl commercial market offers improved wood grain and stone replication in both large tile and plank formats. Coupled with the ceramic bead finish and antimicrobial coating on the premium vinyl flooring products, vinyl, too, has become a dominating design solution for the dental operatory (even for carpet diehards like me!).

Modular carpet tile
Another product that we have avoided in part due to the limited esthetic is the modular carpet tile. Promoted as an exchangeable product, the ability to replace one stained carpet tile in a field of carpet tiles is arguably an advantage over broadloom 12' wide material. However, our clients' reactions to the "institutional" look limited its application. And yet the market has persisted and the variety of tile sizes, patterns, and improved yarn appearance has us looking once again at this as a viable functional and esthetic solution.


The selling benefits of LED lighting and the reality of what was affordable has kept LED lighting out of most dental projects. No amount of ROI "sales pitch" could overcome a product that was two to three times the cost of traditional fluorescent light fixtures. That storyline is beginning to change. The adoption of much more restrictive energy lighting codes along with the technological improvements in the LED light product itself is beginning to make headway in the LED design solution "marketplace." While LED recessed down light options and uplighting LED tape light strips are beginning to compete with their fluorescent counterparts (shown here in Dr. Kevin Burke's Houston, Texas, office), we still await viable 2 x 4 fixtures for the dental operatory. But watch for these next. They are the next step in this LED product expansion.

Whether refurbishing, remodeling, or building new, don't presume high-performance products are still subject to low esthetic appeal. Just as our recent client discovered, material advancements have resulted in stunning, low-maintenance, and high-performing products appropriate to the dental office environment … every dentist's and designer's dream.

Jeff Carter, DDS, and Pat Carter, IIDA, are owners of PDG - Practice Design Group. Located in Buda, Texas, PDG offers a full range of design and consulting services to dentists nationwide. For information, call (800) 511-7110 or visit

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