VILLAGERS just outside Richmond,Va.,keep telling their friends they must visit White & White, a married couple’s dental practice in the village of Midlothian, because the building’s beauty is as impressive as the staff’s customer service. It’s all the result of a simple mission statement: “Professional excellence with a personal touch.”
Drs. J. “Scott” and Pranee C. White, 39 and 37, built a 4,000-square-foot, six-operatory office that’s part of a 10,000-square-foot condo building in their community of 35,000. Having that much floor space left room to equip three more operatories when the need arises. The general practitioners use the two largest operatories as sedation suites that feature custom, semi-private, shoji screens reflective of Pranee’s childhood in Thailand.
“We both received extensive training in sedation,” Pranee says. “Other patients and dentists refer to us for IV or oral sedation. We get a lot of new patients who haven’t been to the dentist in many years because of fear or anxiety. They come back and get more comfortable each time.”
The Whites had been performing sedation dentistry for years, but their former workplace just wasn’t a calming environment, Scott says.
WHITE & WHITE
1690 Huguenot Road Midlothian, VA 23113
“I had 30 to 40 Dental Economics magazines in a stack with the Practices of the Month bookmarked,” he says. “They all came out, and we shared them with architects and suppliers. The majority of our ideas came from those articles.”
They opened the new practice in March 2004. Patients liken the space to an exclusive spa when they hear the soothing sound of the fountain, breathe in diffused essential oils, and relax among the warm colors and light woods Pranee chose.
But the couple considered new dental equipment by accident before they relocated. In December 2002, Scott suffered a potentially career-ending disc injury that sidelined him for seven weeks. Even then, he wasn’t sure he could return to dentistry. Someone suggested the Whites consult an ergonomic expert.
They agreed, then purchased one Midmark LR chair to use in their former practice. A remarkable increase in comfort for doctors and patients convinced Scott he could handle returning to work part time. Soon, the couple considered building a small dental practice. Nevertheless, Scott wanted to be a productive, full-time partner. That’s when they began building and ordered six of the chairs in black Ultra Leather.
“Comfort is extremely important because some of our procedures are as long as five hours during a sedation appointment,” Scott says. “We experienced very little stress when it came to making our final selection. We flew with our clinical staff and our Benco rep to the Midmark facilities in Versailles, Ohio, where we were able to select everything from their complete display of equipment.”
The Whites also purchased Hu-Friedy instruments, IMS instrument cassettes, and the Dentsply Midwest Stylus handpiece system for their cutting instruments. They equipped treatment rooms with computer workstations and dual-monitor systems. In each room, a monitor is mounted in the cabinet and another is mounted from the ceiling for patients who choose to watch dental-education materials, DVDs, and TV programs.
“We didn’t want people to feel like they were in a dentist’s office,” Scott says. “We told the architect we wanted it to feel like a spa - we didn’t want it to feel, sound, or smell like a dental office.”
That translated to giving patients exceptional service they would receive in a spa or luxury hotel. With each soon-to-be patient, that personalized service begins with a phone call. After the patient discusses his or her expectations, the patient spends the first appointment meeting the staff, touring the office, and choosing from fine teas and cookies in the reception room before undergoing a thorough, hour-and-a-half exam.
“Most patients follow our recommendations,” Pranee says. “I think they leave feeling ready to appoint. We end with a nice warm towel, a beverage of their choice, and a little treat - something to eat if they need it.”
In addition to the doctors, the dental team includes practice manager Karin Leigh, patient care coordinators Wasana Deppe and Susan Uhls, dental assistants Michelle Thompson, Lisa Sias, Suzette Speer, and JoAnn Foster, dental hygienists Suzanna Robb and Jane McMillan, and administrative assistant Melissa Robinson.
The Whites manage their business and personal lives according to a well-planned calendar. Two days a week, each partner arrives to work later than the other to take care of their children, Austin, 9, and Addie, 5.
“I’m really enjoying where I am right now,” Pranee says. “With two children, we want to be their care providers; we used to have a nanny. I want to balance that a little better than what I’m doing right now. We both take an active part in high-end cosmetic cases and full-mouth restorations. Scott does more of the business administration. He spends a lot of time reading, learning, and going to CEs to grow the business.”
Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and a half day every other Friday reserved for one sedation patient.
“We’re not thinking about each other or something else while we’re in the office,” Scott says. “We’re with that patient. Sometimes at the end of the day, we look at each other and say, ‘How was your day?’”