For all the amazing work you do to create beautiful smiles, patients who step into your reception area for their appointment may feel scared, stressed, or intimidated by what’s to come. Whether their visit involves filling cavities, resolving a periodontal issue, or straightening their teeth, their mindset affects their attitude about their treatment.
To alleviate their stress, a good place to start is with the design of your practice. Consider how you can create a setting that calms their nerves, decreases their stress, and shifts their attitudes. While your staff may approach each patient with empathy, the art patients see in your reception area promotes a welcome and calming effect when they step in the door.
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The impact of art in dental practices
According to the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM), there is increasing evidence in rehabilitatoin and the field of neuroscience that art enhances brain function.1 It impacts the brain wave patterns, emotions, and nervous system. It can also raise serotonin levels.
ACRM reported that in a study conducted at the University College London, people who viewed beautiful art had a 10% increase in blood flow to the area of the brain associated with pleasure. This triggered an effect like that of looking at a loved one. What a lovely thought. Wouldn’t you like your practice to have that type of impact on your patients when they arrive?
Contributor Amanda Lauren reported in Forbes magazine that “the most innovative medical offices are embracing interior design to elevate the patient experience. With so much competition, medical practices are doing everything they can to stand out. Embracing interior design has become a big part of this.”2
Interior design means more than just nice furniture. Whether it’s an original painting or a photograph, a strategically placed piece of art delivers a welcoming impression and invites patients into a harmonious, calming atmosphere. Art in your dental practice benefits not only patients, but your staff as well. Viewing art has been shown to:
- Reduce stress and depression.
- Create a hospitable atmosphere conducive to healing.
- Affect the way people think and feel.
- Increase joy, lifting the weight of the world off one’s shoulders.
- Convey a welcoming presence, one of peace and tranquility.
- Stimulate both unconscious and conscious brain functions.
- Increase productivity of your team members.
The right artwork not only fosters wellness, but also contributes to a holistic approach to healing. It conveys messages of hope and positivity. While we’re not talking about art therapy here, the placement of art in any environment has the power to touch hearts, evoke emotions, and elevate patients’ experiences as soon as they step in your office.
“A beautiful waiting room that promotes health, wellness, and productivity is part of the experience that turns patients into loyal customers,” according to PatientPop. “No one enjoys waiting, but your waiting room can make a big difference. A good waiting room promotes comfort and autonomy. Even if patients have to wait, they can feel like they have ownership of their time.”4
What type of art appeals to patients?
Every person experiences a different emotion and has a different opinion about what they like when it comes to art. What one person finds captivating another might consider boring. If beauty is in the eye of beholder, how do you know what will appeal to your patients?
Images of nature, from landscapes and oceans to flowers and plants, are most popular and often reduce stress. Wall murals that display tropical beaches and oceans, woodland forests, or botanic gardens serve as visual distraction and ease anxiety. Artistic styles from realistic watercolor landscapes or flower photography inspire a sense of calm. Abstract alcohol ink, watercolor, or acrylic paintings spark the imagination and can instill a sense of joy.
The theme or subject matter of the art on your walls may vary depending on your location or overall esthetic. You may choose to incorporate art that highlights your location (i.e., mountains, desert, ocean) versus those who select a visual wellness theme that promotes serenity.
In addition, it’s no secret that color makes an impact on people’s moods. Certain hues elicit rest and relaxation. In addition to selecting art that creates a harmonious and uplifting environment, choose a balance of colors that compliment your practice’s brand.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), while you don’t want to be boring, too much color stimulation can be a bad thing.5 Here are some color tips:
- Orange: Use it in limited quantities to add a fun, whimsical touch to your décor. Used in large quantities, it can be overwhelming.
- Pink: Happy and youthful, it’s similar to orange in terms of how much or little you should incorporate into your practice.
- Blue: Has a relaxing and calming effect. Think of ocean scenes and blue skies.
- Green: Symbolizes freshness and growth. Enter a room with art that highlights subtle shades of green and patients may feel a sense of tranquility, as if they stepped into a garden.
- Red: Symbolizes excitement and energy. Although it’s a warm color, it may contribute to anxiety in a dental office setting because it raises body tension.
- Yellow: Brightens the day with sunshine and cheer. However, when used in large, bright quantities, it can elicit tense reactions.
Whether it’s a beautiful painting, photograph, or mural, consider the benefits of hanging art in your practice. Doing so does more than create a welcoming esthetic; it relaxes your patients, calms their nerves, and invites them into a warm and hospitable environment.
This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.
1. How the brain is affected by art. American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. https://acrm.org/rehabilitation-medicine/how-the-brain-is-affected-by-art/
2. Lauren A. Sophisticated medical office design is what patients have come to expect. Forbes. May 31, 2022. https://www.forbes.com/sites/amandalauren/2022/05/31/sophisticated-medical-office-design-is-what-patients-have-come-to-expect/
3. The positive impact of wall art in medical facilities. Murals your way. https://www.muralsyourway.com/inspiration/articles/the-positive-impact-of-art-in-medical-facilities
4. Wollman B. Fun ways to ensure patients love your waiting room. Patient Pop. July 28, 2023. https://www.patientpop.com/blog/6-strategies-turn-waiting-room-asset/
5. Choosing a color scheme for your dental office. American Dental Association. https://www.ada.org/en/resources/practice/practice-management/office-design/choosing-a-color-scheme