From Fear Factor to FUN Factor.
Dr. Mandana Nikoui
To create a pediatric dental environment that would transform the patient experience, eliminating fear by placing emphasis on discovery and imaginative play above the white-knuckle anticipation of a dental procedure.
- Transforming a destination most people typically find stressful visiting—a dental care facility—into a calming and positive environment (in some cases past patients were so nervous prior to their appointments that they would physically bite the upholstery and damage the space)
- Existing footprint and structural parameters that did not suit programming and operational needs
- High-maintenance space that needed to be durable and stand up to frequent cleaning
Kids & Teens Dentistry is a dental clinic that provides high-quality dental care to infants (0-3), children (4-12) and adolescents (13-18), including those with special needs. The client’s vision was to create a space that would allow children to have a positive and happy experience at the clinic, while at the same time help calm or relax nervous parents worried about their child’s behaviour during their visit and wait period.
To accomplish the task at hand, we combined our kids and teens clubs design and programming expertise with our strength in brand and business strategy, to develop a new business model and concept, unique to the dental care industry.
We created a park-like setting indoors for the children 12 and under; this waiting area features imaginative elements such as a treehouse and a tooth fairy house. Studies have shown that opportunities for active play help induce a strong pleasure response and release dopamine while helping children to burn off excess nerves and energy prior to their medical appointment. With that in mind, sprinkled throughout the area are a host of activities including stairs to climb, an interactive floor, hopscotch and virtual games. To give teens a feeling that they have a place just for them, an exclusive waiting area was created. This space incorporates curved-lounge seating, a TV screen for movies and kinetics gaming, as well as an iPad counter. We then took the cool factor up another notch by leveraging the universal teenage desire for control by making entry to the VIP lounge only possible by punching in a secret passcode.
Throughout the clinic the philosophy of Biophilic design was incorporated. This approach follows the belief that by connecting people with nature you can positively affect their stress levels, blood pressure, heart rate and ability to heal. Biophilic touches in the clinic include large windows that look out onto the trees outside, natural daylighting, and the use of curved shapes and wood elements within the waiting area. Research has shown that these features and specifically the custom pond mural artwork which features a 3D vantage point that immerses the viewer into the scene, has been linked in helping to calm those who are waiting during a stressful situation.
This design has transformed a fear factor into a fun factor! Since the redesign, Kids & Teens Dentistry staff members have observed a noticeable drop in the anxiety level of patients and parents. Patients who were once a challenge to deal with are less so as they are more relaxed. On many occasions, after their appointments are over, children can be heard asking their parents if they can stay and play in the waiting area–some have even asked if they can host their birthday parties in the clinic! But the greatest affirmation of the project’s success was when a young child was overheard whispering, “Mom, I’m not scared anymore.”
“Ann helped me create such a unique magical environment for both children and teens alike that even the most anxious ones forget their fear and feel immediately at ease”
Dr. Mandana Nikoui
Owner, Kids & Teens Dentistry
To see more photos of the completed project click here!