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New ADA resource offers guidance on designing dental offices

January 21, 2013

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Dentists opening a new office can now build on the expertise of others who have been there and done that—and lived to write about it.

In The ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design, a new planning resource, an accomplished team of dentistry and design industry experts shares their expertise.

A collaboration between the ADA and several experts, the new guide reflects the authors' valuable knowledge and experience with planning and building a new dental practice space from scratch—or redesigning an existing office.

Dr. Osterhaus 
“Kudos to the ADA for responding to the needs of their constituents, as the profession was clearly overdue in having a book discussing all these various topics,” said Dr. Gordon F. Osterhaus, a retired dentist who now consults with dentists opening new offices.

The new guide features more than 100 color photos, charts and graphics, and sample documents, and it offers advice ranging from architectural and interior design to ergonomics and environmental best practices. It also addresses financing options, assembling a project management team, determining equipment needs, layout efficiency and more. The 196-page, full-color book is available to ADA members for $89.95 and to nonmembers for $134.95.

Dr. Unthank 
Dr. Osterhaus wrote the first chapter, “Building a Team You Can Trust.” Several lay experts addressed topics such as interior design, practice finance and green spaces. Other contributors include experts culled from dentistry (and in some cases paired with lay experts), such as Dr. David Ahearn, who addressed dental ergonomics; Dr. Jeff Carter, who worked with interior designer Pat Carter, on exterior considerations; Don Hobbs who worked with Dr. Mark Tholen to address dental equipment and technology; and Dr. Michael Unthank, who is also an architect.

“I wrote the foreword to the first edition of The ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design and was subsequently asked to contribute the chapter on dental office layout for the second edition,” Dr. Unthank said. “Being both a registered architect and a licensed dentist, and having designed only dental and specialty offices since 1980, I felt this was a topic I could appropriately address.”

Mr. Miller 
Architect Joe Miller, principal of Denver-based JoeArchitect, wrote about dental office interiors. “My role with the firm is to educate dental professionals on the process of designing and constructing a dental office,” Mr. Miller said. “I regularly speak with students and established dentists across the country about the opportunity they have to create a one-of-a-kind office environment that sets their practice apart from the masses. The ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design seems like the ideal conduit to deliver this information to the people who truly need it.

“The guide is essentially a one-stop shop that connects you to the design professionals who are at the top of their game when it comes to dental office design.”

ADA members can save 15 percent on The ADA Practical Guide to Dental Office Design and other ADA Catalog products by using campaign code 13101 by Feb. 28. Visit to make purchases and for more information.