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Touring Dr. Anthony Altieri's practice in Arundel, Maine

Feb. 8, 2010
Editor's Note from Kevin Henry: Just before the recent Yankee Dental Congress in Boston, I had the chance to tour Dr. Anthony Altieri in Arundel, Maine. While his office is by no means palatial, it is typical of many dental practices around the country. Dr. Altieri also faced an issue of design when it came to redesigning his office. I thought you'd find his office interesting and perhaps an inspiration.Photos by Creative Images Photography
We renovated this office two years ago. Our current office used to be two separate units. We were very cramped in our old space, so when the unit next door to us became available, we bought it. It turned our office into a T-shape. We were very happy with Garrett Ludwig’s design and how he made the T-shaped office work for us. He thought of things we really hadn’t, and when he presented the final plan to us, there wasn’t much that we had to change. We wanted to squeeze a lot of things into a small space, and he helped us with that.We originally wanted a tin ceiling in the reception area and thought about doing a raised ceiling with recessed lighting, but we also didn’t want to go over the top on anything. This is Maine, so we wanted an office that felt professional but not pricey. Many of our customers are middle-class, average people who don’t want to think their fees are going toward a fancy office. Our goal was to mesh the feeling of home with a dental office in a place where people would feel comfortable. I think we’ve done that.We gutted the entire office and, little by little, got things where we wanted them. A lot of work was done at night and on weekends so that we weren’t closed for any long period. Our previous office was small, cramped, and unprofessional. I remember when we broke through the wall for the first time and saw what it would be like to have both units to use. I walked into what was to be our new waiting room and was amazed, wondering how we had worked in the old office. This was a big decision and cost around $500,000, but it was worth it. I believe your patients get a perspective on your dentistry by the office you have. People get impressions from your office, and I want people to have confidence in us. Also, it’s important to have a nice working environment because of all the time you spend in the office. Think about how many hours you spend in your practice. Don’t you want to work somewhere you enjoy that makes you feel good?
Dr. Altieri's office after (top) and before (bottom) renovationKelly (pictured below): I’ve worked in other offices, but I’ve never felt more comfortable than I do here. We have a terrific team. Dr. Altieri is generous and gives us each the reins and lets us go because he has faith in each of us in this practice. Note: Dr. Altieri later said, “I have the best team. I am blessed with bright women who don’t need to be directed.”
I think the compliments we’ve received are amazing. People know we focus on those patients who are extremely nervous or anxious. The first time that I talk to someone on the phone I ask what we can do for them. I think that’s an important question and lets the patient understand that he or she is not just a number and that our practice is not a “get in and get out” practice. We care about the patients.
Dr. Altieri and our team have taken a sedation course through DOCS, so patients know they can come into a certified practice and sleep through their procedure. They are thrilled when they hear that. We’ve also trained as a team at LVI. We do everything as a team and I think that’s great. We stress periodontal health and let them know we do same-day crowns with our E4D system. We even still accept insurance assignments and patients are very glad to know I’ll look up information on the computer for them. Some of them just hand me their credit card and know I’ll find out everything they need to know in terms of insurance and payments.I love the laminate floor we have throughout the practice. It’s easy to clean and so durable. It’s been through two Maine winters so far and despite all the snow and sand that has come into our office, it looks brand new.Bio: Dr. Anthony N. Altieri graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine in 1991. While practicing in Connecticut, he had the opportunity to purchase a dental practice in Maine in 1992, creating Gentle Dental Care. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the Maine Dental Association, the Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation, and the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies. He can be reached through the practice's Web site at’s Note: Garrett Ludwig was the “design mind” behind Dr. Altieri’s redesigned office. I asked him to provide his thoughts on the project below.Ludwig: If you would like your office design project to be successful, take a lesson from Dr. Tony Altieri and his staff. Part of his “secret skill” is embedded in that last phrase, “...and his staff,” because he has learned the fine art of delegation — which is predicated on trust. From my perspective, his project was successful because he imparted the same responsibility to me with defined expectation. Please understand that this was not a cavalier transference of control. Much like his staff, I had to earn his trust. But once established, he allowed me to be his eyes, ears, and instrument to guide him toward creating an office that would properly represent his skills and dedication to patient care. Whether it is written, verbal, graphic, or simply visual, every element of design depends on a high level of communication. Effective decisions can only be made when the options for development are clearly understood. Tony and his staff are adept communicators, particularly Kelly who, as practice administrator, is Tony’s “right hand.” All staff members were extremely interactive and self confident enough to unabashedly ask questions when clarity was in any way deficient.As much as I thrive on a design challenge, the idea of creating a functional design solution in a “T”-shaped space was mind-boggling. Implementing the design theory “form follows function” might have been less onerous if it weren’t for the myriad of regulatory mandates to which we had to adhere. Among the most provocative were issues with handicapped accessibility, life-safety [egresses], and building code compliances.
One-by-one code issues were met, negotiations conferred and agreed, and the design process progressed. Ultimately, it became apparent that the perpendicular juxtaposition of the two spaces actually worked in our favor and supported what has proven to be a functional formula for efficient dental office design — defined and separated areas of activity. The base of the “T” bisected the top of the “T” equidistantly, thereby creating a natural separation between the administrative and staff areas, and efficaciously designating “itself” as the clinical space. As a result, all support systems function independently and patient and staff traffic are never in conflict. The office has little, if any, unused space. I credit Tony and his staff for their diligence, persistence, and commitment to their vision. I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with such a professional, yet down-to-earth group.
Garrett Ludwig founded Diversified Design Technologies Inc. in 1971. The company has specialized in the design and construction of private-practice, health-care facilities since 1975. Ludwig has shared his experience in dental office design in numerous trade publications, and continues to lecture on the subject throughout the United States. He can be reached at (800) 622-5563 and [email protected]. Visit his Web site at
Editor's Note: To take a video tour of the office, CLICK HERE