By Danny Chan
To visit Dr David Figdor’s specialist endodontic practice is to study up close an often talked about – but seldom attained – design aspiration known as “functional aesthetics”. When the dental academic-cum-practitioner moved his surgery from St Kilda Road to Melbourne’s South East, in the suburb of Armadale, every effort was made to bring to bear his vision of a cutting edge endodontic practice that while fully functional, exudes a Zen-like aura of space and comfort. A simple but apt new practice name encapsulated the results: Prime Endodontics.
“The architectural goal was to have a pared back look, with clean lines and a feeling of light and space — minimal but warm and sharp without shouting,” says Dr Figdor, with a hindsight sense of achievement.
“It is deliberately non-dental in look and feel. Every aspect from top to bottom and down to the finest detail was carefully considered and designed.”
Walking past the front garden of Prime Endodontics, you would be instantly drawn to its contrasting visage. The Edwardian cottage-style building – with its heritage-retained street front wall and terracotta roof – adds a layer of period charm to an otherwise modern façade. The real surprise, however, awaits you inside the three-level building.
Striking in its simplicity yet boldly understated, the minimalist interior décor at the reception makes a stunning impression, resembling more what you would expect to see in an Apple Store than a dental surgery. This less-is-more design philosophy is evident throughout the practice.
The abundance of natural light in each of the rooms on level one, for example, is easily taken for granted until you realise that there are no windows from the street side, yet every room has natural light through the use of skylights and floor-to-ceiling north-facing windows.
In the dental operatories, the pared back approach is once again utilised to great effect, as Dr Figdor explains: “Anything that does not need to be there is removed and anything that does not need to be in use is concealed.”
For example, there are no visible paper towel dispensers at sinks, and no sharps or waste containers visible on the walls or bench-tops. Paper towels are concealed within in-counter dispensers or hidden within cabinetry. Each sink in the clinical and sterilisation areas has concealed, custom designed pull-out sharps containers located under-bench and sharps are discarded through a 30 mm hole in the Corian bench-top.
Equipment was selected for function, durability and aesthetics. There are only three visual elements in the treatment area: a single pole to carry the operating microscope (ProErgo by Zeiss), the chair and a single custom-made pole to support the dentist treatment unit (UNIC by Heka Dental). The operatory chair has a minimalist design aesthetic, yet is highly configurable and provides superb ergonomic function.
There are further plans to raise the technological bar on an already ultra-modern set up. “Several years ago, I began sending patients for Cone Beam CT scans and was amazed by what could be seen in the third dimension. In every case, valuable information was gained for diagnosis and treatment planning that was not achievable using conventional 2D images. Having seen 3D scans from various machines, I was particularly impressed by the quality of images taken on the Morita machines.”
Meanwhile, a room has been designed and fitted ready to install a Morita Veraviewepocs 3De unit, says the endo specialist: “The Morita Veraviewepocs 3De has been specifically selected for its advanced technology – high resolution, high quality images and low radiation – in a small unit.”
Laid out on two levels, the surgery space – accommodating the work of one endodontist and three auxiliary staff – is cleverly appropriated: The clinical level is approximately 85 square meters with two operatories/surgery rooms. On the upper level, there is a purpose-built continuing education (and staff amenity) area of about 65 square meters plus three outdoor terraces.
The continuing education area is specifically designed and fitted out to provide educational courses relevant to dental professionals in a relaxed environment and on a personal level. A small area is customised for 1-5 people around a large screen for case discussion, whereas a larger area suits 12–14 people for study groups and seminars.
“It provides unique educational experience at a superb venue,” Dr Figdor comments on the training area where he gets to flesh out his academic role as an endodontic teacher. With over 25 years clinical experience as a specialist in endodontic practice in central Melbourne, Dr Figdor has been involved in both undergraduate and postgraduate teaching at the University of Melbourne.
Asked about the price for realising his exacting standards in the creation of Prime Endodontics, the internationally renowned dental speaker and author of highly cited endodontic literature replies nonchalantly:
“To obtain clean and aesthetic results with great function involves significant costs in time, energy and dollars. Nevertheless, it is a marvellous space for the staff to work and for patients.”