Sierra Dental

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Pairing high-end digital technology with a clear explanation to patients of “why” it’s being used is a core operating principle for Sierra Dental. This patient-focused perspective – thinking about dentistry from the patient’s point of view – is what laid the foundation for the construction of the practice’s third office in Airdrie, Alberta, about 15 minutes from Calgary. This up-and-coming city is filled with new neighborhoods, is close to the Calgary airport and is growing with many new families, making it a perfect location for a practice that offers general dentistry as well as the specialties of periodontics, pedodontics, and orthodontics.TMJ treatment, orofacial pain, endodontics, and sleep dentistry.


“Sierra Dental was created so that one dentist doesn’t have to be great at everything and a master of all trades,” explained Dr. Meggan Schiffner, one of the owners of the office.


“Each of our wonderful doctors and hygienists has chosen a different area of dentistry to focus on. They take continuing education courses and learn the latest methods and technology in their special area of interest. This allows them to build skills and knowledge and work together to treat our patients comprehensively.”


When the doctors decided to open another location in Airdrie, they discovered several reasons to build instead of renovate an existing office. First, the spaces they toured needed complete renovations to meet their current needs as well as future growth. They also had a very specific design vision in mind, which required a building that could deliver high ceilings, be open and bright, with the potential to accommodate high-end technology. They knew buying an existing practice also meant buying the existing culture and the perception it had already established in the marketplace.  With their unique structure and focus, they decided that building a new office from scratch, customized to their wish list, would allow them to equip it exactly as they desired.“Looking around the Airdrie market, no one was doing what we were in Calgary,” said Dr. Schiffner.


“With the latest technology and a patient-centric and collaborative approach, we felt we could make a difference there.”

Use of Space Impacts Patient Experience

Sierra Dental had a long-term relationship with another supplier but had chosen Henry Schein to complete a one-room renovation, explained Jason Carway, the Henry Schein Equipment Sales Specialist who led his team on the project. Through that partnership, a relationship grew and when it came time to build their new office, they ultimately selected Henry Schein and moved all of their business over.


“We started the design process by thinking about what worked and didn’t work in our existing locations,” said Dr. Schiffner. “We also toured other offices in the area to get a feel for different layout ideas.”


The doctors noted that technology has changed the way they use space, too. They no longer need dedicated areas for paper charts or storing study models since everything is digitized. Old cabinetry set-ups are obsolete because of new sterilization protocols.

“We needed to rethink everything we were doing and ask why” said Schiffner, who pointed out that space is expensive and how it’s used also affects the patient experience. “Companies like Schein who are at the forefront of this movement can be so valuable in this process.”

The doctors knew they wanted enough space for all of the team members to work and learn under one roof, they wanted a large open meeting space for continuing education and team gatherings, dedicated area for patient consultations, monitors for patient comfort and distraction and a bright and open feel.


“When it came to our equipment choices, we relied heavily on Henry Schein and the team to guide us in the best direction. We wanted something that was progressive and easy to use and that could grow with us.”

Modern, Airy Design

The caliber of dentistry offered at Sierra is exceptional, and the finishes and layout of the office needed to express that cutting-edge treatment. The office is primarily in shades of gray and white, with the hue carried through in carpet, flooring, reception desk, equipment and furniture.  Bright sunlight filters into the reception area, making it a cheerful entrance to the practice, and contemporary pendant lights hang as well, adding architectural interest to the minimalistic design. In the clinical space, Sierra Dental has outfitted six operatories with room to expand to nine. There’s an orthodontic suite with three chairs and six closed bay treatment rooms that are generously sized. All of the treatment rooms are configured universally so any doctor in any room can complete any dental procedure.


“Wait times to see specialists are kept to a minimum,” said Dr. Knebel one of the owners. “We are curious when having conversations with patients and have a deep regard for listening to their goals and outcomes.”


White cabinetry along with gray and black accents create a soothing ambiance inside the spacious operatories, and patient monitors deliver distracting entertainment as well as valuable opportunities to showcase digital images that aid in education and treatment acceptance.

“We pictured having two doctors working with two rooms each, along with four hygiene and then one room for same-day treatment or emergencies so we can always say ‘yes’ to a caller who is asking for care,” said Dr. Knebel. “If a doctor is running behind, the additional space is always welcome and makes it easy for the scheduling team to have a ‘yes’ mentality to treatment.”

Sophisticated Technology Propels High-End Dentistry

The team spared no expense on equipping the practice with top-of-the-line technology that would provide each specialist with the powerful diagnostic tools needed for their work as well as give patients insights into why that work was needed.


“Our needs – having a team of specialists along with a team of general dentists – required equipment that could be easily used and integrated by so many different areas of dentistry,” said Dr. Knebel.


The doctors chose Sirona Intego treatment centers, Sinius chairs with rich black leather seating and multiple memory functions for different doctors and functions; Sirona digital imaging sensors and Heliodent X-rays; LED lights; and MCC/Redl cabinets.When choosing the Sirona as their 3D imaging solution, Carway said it came down to evaluating the practice’s overall needs and finding the best solution.


“We spent time with the doctor in her existing office,” said Carway, explaining the process. “We found the look and functionality she wanted and had multiple meetings with our team to introduce the Sirona technology.”


The ease of integration with different technologies made it a good fit for the practice. One of those technologies, according to the doctors, is SLR imaging using Sopro Life digital cameras.


“We use SLR imaging for every patient that walks into our practice,” noted Dr. Schiffner. “We have these cameras in every operatory and rarely go without using them in each appointment for education, caries detection and documentation. It’s been a huge success to update SLR images after changes in care to see how the hygiene appointments, new crowns or more biocompatible restorations help in inflammatory health.”

For orthodontics and restorative procedures, the practice has an iTero digital scanner, and the doctors also use it with all new patients when establishing their files. Common clinical areas, including the sterilization center, onsite laboratory and the imaging alcove sit in the center of the clinical space, making them easily accessible from any part of the practice.  The sterilization area is a walk through, galley style and has hospital grade equipment including the Sci-Can Hydrim and M11 sterilizers.


Behind the scenes, the practice paid as much attention to staff education and comfort as they did to patient care. The staff lounge is large and inviting, and the mezzanine gives the practice a place to focus on continued growth and learning.


“The mezzanine is a learning center for continuing education, meetings on culture and values, and lunch-and-learns from industry leaders and representatives,” said Schiffner. “We have a learning organization, and with multi-media and camera technology, we have built an area where we can continually be learning without shutting down the clinical part of our practice.”


This dedication to education and being on the forefront of their chosen field allows patients to receive superior, congruent treatment that embraces the doctors’ shared goals and outcomes – to give patients “teeth for life”.


“We would highly recommend the team at Henry Schein Calgary to any of our colleagues. From Branch Manager Greg Christensen, Field Sales Consultant Krista Shostak, High-Tech Equipment Sales Specialist Jerry Campbell, Ian Doyle and the install team, and of course, Jason Carway, who was with us throughout the project. From concept to completion, Jay and Team Schein were there for us to make this as stress free as possible.”

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