skip to Main Content

Building a new dental practice? Ask lots of questions!

To what extent do those in a profession use simple jargon? I would argue a lot. We even have an English sentence to achieve a good understanding of the jargon – well versed. Even if you’ve never thought about it, I think you’ll recognize that there are degrees to which someone actually cares about their understanding of a professional conversation.

Do you need to know the year the law the lawyer is talking about was passed? Probably not. Is it necessary to know that the termite type wishes to be able to still use chlordane? Definitely not. Do you care what terms the surgeon is talking about? (Well, in that case, I’d probably take careful notes and google everything later.)

Architects also use jargon, and when they’re building or remodeling your office, you shouldn’t be shy about being bold to stop them in their tracks and ask, “What exactly does this mean to me?” »


Related Articles

Designing the dental practice of the future: surgical design
What is the ideal operating room size?


For example, one might say, “We have a very regulated progression in this node, and with the larger volume created at this point, I’d like to set up a natural release leading you into the bay of treatment.”

Uh, what?

Unknown terminology

In my experience, potentially unfamiliar terminology falls into four categories.

  1. Technical: regarding codes, structure, construction, regulations, etc. Examples are shear, vapor retarders, bearing, occupant load, VN type and commercial classification.
  2. Components: architectural and construction parts that have common names. These include the partition, the cove, the knee wall, the pilaster and the cornice.
  3. Experiential: descriptions of concepts, sensations and objectives. Examples are flow, transparency, upside down, space sharing, light, heavy, solid, float, and planes.
  4. Type of design: certain categories of architecture and style are classic, modern, transitional, eclectic, etc.

The importance of these categories

Purely technical terms are something you can choose to care about or not. The professionals you have hired are on board to guide you through it all. Keep in mind that sometimes a technical aspect tightly controls “what we can do here”. Just as likely, there will be choices to make for something technical that involves cost. In these cases, don’t let simple terminology get in the way. It is important that you know and understand all the “whys” involved in order to make an informed decision. There are much simpler terms for everything. Ask them.

The components of design and construction are the true second language of architects, and it is very important that you understand what a term means when it appears in conversation. “You used ‘partition’ and ‘soffit’ to describe this opening. What’s the difference?” I also encourage you to ask for a “scribble” if words just aren’t enough. We architects are visual creatures and should be able to show you quickly and easily.

In the hands of a good designer, your project will develop as a total experience, from the view of the street to the parking lot, from the entrance door through each of the areas and processes of the office, the architect will think of the move , sit, chat and interact in each space, and work to bring it into a unified whole.

Improving these experiences is what good design is all about. Discussions here are filled with design elements and what it feels like to be in and move around in spaces, and what makes them special. This is the fun part, so go for it! Two caveats: 1. Don’t accept all the talk. Ask for the pictures if you need them. 2. Don’t let flowery language or intention go against your strongest desires. After all, it’s your office!

The style words confuse even me, and a Google search of what they all mean will reinforce this point. Beyond the basic ideas of traditional and modern, I encourage you to find real photos of what you like, point them out, and let your designer(s) worry about the terminology.

Architecture is a unique art that results in small mountains of drawings and specifications. Along the way, there are bound to be some unfamiliar topics and discussions. Don’t let this get uncomfortable; you just have to ask. Heck, even right out of architecture school, we’re filled with endless questions; the vernacular can be overwhelming.

Good luck with all of this!


Editor’s note: This article appeared in the October 2022 print edition of Dental economy magazine. Dentists in North America can take advantage of a free print subscription. Register here.

Back To Top