The high-pitched whir of a dentist’s drill. An examination light centimetres away from your face. Being reclined slightly more than 180 degrees. All while holding your mouth in an unnatural position for what feels like an eternity. Visiting the dentist raises emotions of anxiety and overwhelm – from the youngest to even the most senior and well-seasoned of patients.
It is known that colour plays a unique and powerful role in influencing individuals’ moods in an environment. By understanding the impact of colour on a patient’s emotions, and thoughtfully integrating colour throughout your practice, it can become an environment that patients look forward to visiting time and time again.
First Impressions Count
Creating a successful dental practice extends beyond highly skilled healthcare professionals and the latest advances in technology and equipment. It’s the overall experience that has the most impact, starting with a patient’s first impressions, and then how comfortable they feel throughout their visit. This goes beyond aesthetics and extends into areas including feeling welcomed and comfortable. It recognises the intrinsic connection between design and emotions as fundamental in the pursuit of creating positive and empathetic patient experience and the ability to alleviate anxiety.
The Role of Colours in Dental Practice Interior Design
Colours are not merely tools used by interior designers to create aesthetically pleasing environments or to follow a trend. They are powerful influencers of emotion and can be used as a tool to enhance the overall patient experience. Design that is mindful of choice of colours can set the mood within a dental clinic and is important when taking a holistic approach to creating a calming environment.
Colours that Reduce Anxiety
Certain colours have been identified for their remarkable ability to inspire calmness. Cool tones on the blue and green spectrum are found to have the ability to create a calming atmosphere.
Green tones gaining popularity in dental practices include Sage, Forest, Mint, and Olive. These tones tie into an increasing desire for the calm of nature. Introducing green elements into your dental practice through live or artificial foliage is another way to further enhance the feelings of calm.
Blue is classically associated with sterile healthcare environments. Light, gentle tones like Ice, Mist and Lagoon invite calm. And rich blues such as Navy and Teal have been favoured for their confidence. Bold blues are brave; Ocean, Aqua or Cobalt, and must be incorporated holistically in a palette and most importantly consider light reflection.
Incorporating styling and art of seascapes, beaches or rivers is another way to invite calm.
Earthy tones are also on the rise as a ‘mood-neutraliser’. Neither swaying toward calm nor to enlivening. They can subdue heightened emotions. This is particularly beneficial in a dental practice where it is not uncommon to encounter patient anxiety. While some dental practices integrate neutral hues in their background flooring and wall tone choices, others use browns, creams, and off-whites as their preferred colour in their furniture choices.
Colours to Avoid
On the other hand, some colours may inadvertently heighten anxiety levels. Vibrant colours have been noted for their potential to energise. Bright reds, yellows, and oranges in particular may not be conducive to a relaxed atmosphere.
By understanding the power of colour on mood, dental practitioners and designers can strategically avoid colours that may overwhelm or overstimulate patients.
Additional Considerations of Colours in Dental Practices
- Branding and Identity
Whilst using colour to help a patient feel at ease is an important consideration, the use of colour to capture branding is essential. Aligning interior colours with a practice’s brand presents consistency in an interior and reinforces identity. While brand colours don’t need to saturate the interior, highlight colours that complement the brand do contribute to a professional and trustworthy atmosphere.
- Natural vs Artificial Lighting
Lighting is another element that can influence mood. While cool-white fluorescent lighting has been a common choice in traditional dental practices, newer builds and newly renovated dental practices have begun to incorporate more natural lighting where possible. This reduces the foreign clinical feel of a dentist visit and creates a more intrinsic and inviting environment.
Entrance ways, reception, and waiting areas are three areas of opportunity to create well-lit spaces. Natural lighting through windows where possible, or warm-white artificial lighting can also positively influence the mood within the dental practice.
- Zoning and Functionality
Implementing colour-zoning to differentiate functions of areas within the practice is a simple yet effective way to help patients process a new environment, again reducing anxiety. Waiting areas, treatment rooms, and consultation spaces can have distinct colour schemes, helping patients navigate the space intuitively and not with apprehension.
- Maintenance and Cleanliness
It is important to consider the practical aspects of maintenance and cleanliness when designing and styling your dental practice. Darker colours may show less wear and tear, particularly in high foot traffic zones. Meanwhile, lighter colours may require more regular cleaning and maintenance to keep the space looking fresh and inviting.
- Colour Choice and Accessibility
Ensuring accessibility for patients with visual impairments includes high contrast between elements’ surfaces. For example, walls and signage, aids in navigating, and locating key areas within the practice. We recommend checking with local governing bodies regarding colour in accessibility guidelines to ensure your new design is compliant – well before site commencement.
Professional Design Assistance
Engaging a professional interior designer with experience in healthcare design can provide expert guidance and experience on colour palettes, materials, a well considered layout, and overall aesthetics to create a harmonious and patient-friendly environment.
By skilfully considering these points, dental practices can leverage the psychological impact of colour to enhance the patient experience and create a welcoming atmosphere. This allows patients to feel at ease on their first visit and encourages them to return time and time again.
Partner with Perfect Practice – Australia’s Leading Healthcare Fitout Specialists
With over two decades of industry leadership, Perfect Practice stands out as Australia’s foremost healthcare fitout specialist. We place you and your future success at the centre of everything we do and are guided by our core values of hard work, family ethics, collaboration, excellence, and innovation. Our expertise spans seamlessly across medical, dental, and veterinary spaces, blending sophisticated design aesthetics with functional efficiency.
Our holistic approach to your project ensures our high-quality designs are delivered through exceptional project management and construction methods, on time and within budget. As you embark on the journey of refreshing your existing or new dental office, envision the unparalleled expertise and commitment offered by Perfect Practice.
Contact our team today at to get the ball rolling with an obligation-free discussion.