Inside Out: The Essence of The Northwest Brought Indoors

By Mark Beagley
Photos by Dane Gregory Meyer

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In spite of its climate—or perhaps because of it—Washington State’s beautiful Puget Sound can be described as elegant yet welcoming, majestic yet comfortable. Warm, regal, fresh, clean, and environmentally accommodating have become common descriptors of the region.

Fred Dahm Dentistry, located in the northern Puget Sound, has truly captured this essence of the Northwest. Its open layouts, earth tone colors, and natural textures speak to the surrounding area’s natural influence and mimic the inviting atmosphere local residents have become accustomed to. The clean lines of the counters and equipment blend harmoniously with the organic shapes of the surrounding furniture and artwork, allowing modern to play perfectly with traditional.

Dr. Fred Dahm began practicing dentistry in 2003, after graduating from the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry. He now has two offices in Washington State, one in Renton and the other in Bellevue. His practices specialize in cosmetic dentistry with an emphasis on implants.

Part of an implant study club, Dr. Dahm continues perfecting his skills and techniques by working closely with a local oral surgeon. Together, they have had the opportunity to work on some fascinating cases in implant and cosmetic dentistry. When he is not practicing dentistry or studying implant techniques, Dr. Dahm loves spending his free time with his family and friends, and enjoys travelling.

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We had the privilege of working alongside Dr. Dahm in the redesign and updating of his Bellevue location. At just over 2,000 square feet, the office has four operatories and room for a fifth. Below are a few conversation points we had with him following his experience with Burkhart.

Can you tell us what led to your decision to update your practice, and why you chose this particular location?
When I opened this practice, I wanted to have the latest technology that would make my life easier and allow me to do the best dentistry I can. I selected the location because it is a new, modern building with space, and in the area where I wanted to be.

Has the update changed the demographics of your patient base?
We are near a lot of tech firms so I think we have attracted a lot of patients who appreciate the technologies and amenities.

How would you describe the process of the office update (length, design, construction)?
When I decided to open a practice in this location, I would say the total process took a little over a year from finding the right space to negotiating the lease and the buildout.

I worked with a designer, Sue Barrett, who only does dental offices and was very handson. She made a lot of changes along the way so I got what I wanted. She did a great job. Also, I worked with a construction company, W.R. Hansen, which only does dental offices and has been doing it for years.

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After having gone through the experience, what one tip can you offer other practitioners considering a re-design?
Don’t go with the cheapest—go with who you know will do the best job.

How would you describe the overall impact of the redesign on your patient base as well as your staff?
[This] was a scratch start so [I had] to grow the patient base. The first couple of years were tough. The patients really like the new, modern facility and feel they will be well taken care of, and [the staff] love where they work. We spend the majority of our day at our office so it needs to be a place we enjoy going to—a positive environment that is comforting to patients and our team.

How would you describe your clinical and treatment philosophy?
I try to treat patients and staff as I would want to be treated. We educate patients and help them make informed decisions about their oral health. We don’t cut corners, and we take time with patients to provide the best possible care we can.

What’s your philosophy on technology and how has it affected the care you provide?
I’ve always believed in utilizing the latest technology. I believe in having the best technology to provide the best possible care. In order to provide the best possible care that you can, you need technology that will make your job and life easier.

Adding a digital panoramic [x-ray] has definitely helped and improved my practice. I also love the electric handpieces and intraoral cameras.

Over the first three years, we have been able to grow the practice and provide exceptional care utilizing the latest technology, and provide positive experiences for many patients that aren’t fond of going to the dentist.

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What was Burkhart’s role in the design process, and why did you decide to work with Burkhart?
Burkhart supplied all of the dental equipment for the office, worked closely with the designer, as well as had many suggestions on the set-up that would make my life easier. I worked with Jim Connor [Burkhart Equipment Specialist]. He helped a lot in helping me pick the right equipment, as well as set-up of equipment, trouble shooting, and solving problems as they came along.

Jim helped a lot in tweaking the design to make it run more efficiently—for example, the design and set-up of sterilization area—as well as picking drawers for side cabinets that served my purpose. [He] helped in equipment selection and sold me on the [panoramic x-ray], which I am definitely glad I got.

If you were to do it all over again, what might you do differently? What words of wisdom would you like to share with doctors who are considering building a new facility?
I don’t know that I would change anything. I would tell doctors who are thinking about doing a new buildout, if you are thinking about it there must be a reason. Don’t make excuses or procrastinate, just move forward. Don’t cut corners—invest in your practice and yourself through continuing education.

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