Dental Operatories – Should They Have Windows?

Dental Operatories – Should They Have Windows?


One of the great paradoxes in dental office design is whether or not the operatories should have windows or not. From the standpoint of creating a warm and welcoming environment for both patients and staff, having windows that look out onto a pleasant scene is a positive. Being able to see the sun lifts one’s spirits. (I know it sure does mine.) Also, there are offices that are situated near natural settings where one can see ponds and streams and trees and the bountiful wildlife they attract. They give patients something to watch other than just a plain wall or a static picture.

The flip side of this is that the operatory is flooded with natural light that varies in intensity throughout the day and with the weather. In the interest of good ergonomics and reducing eye strain as designers we want to control the quality of the light and its intensity. In the interest of good quality dentistry, again, as designers, we want to control the quality of the light so that colors are always the same and high quality color matches are possible during dental procedures. We are all aware of how colors and textures change during different parts of the day as a result of the variable nature of our sun. A dentist certainly doesn’t want the patient’s teeth to be varying shades of white based upon the time of day they had their appointment.

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Additionally, as part of sound green design one should be attempting to make maximum use of natural daylight to reduce the need for artificial lighting and reduce energy costs. Again, this can be contrary to the needs for consistent and controlled lighting in an operatory. Plus, whether the building, and the dental office, is aligned along an east-west axis impacts the degree to which daylighting can be achieved.

So, the challenge in good dental office design for operatories becomes this: “How do we replicate the positive features of having windows in operatories without them so they won’t interfere with our ability to achieve the highest quality of lighting possible?”

Source by James Kuester