Creating Simply Awesome Smiles

Finding Awesome Smiles, the brand new practice of Dr Andy Hsiau and business partner Joanna Hao, doesn’t easily happen by accident. Located on the first floor of a commercial building in the crowded dental hub of Hurstville in Sydney’s South, you have to walk past several other very visible dental practices before you will arrive at their door. Yet, on entry, the practice is a buzz.

“A friend of mine owns the Healthpac medical centre right next door and he’s been on at me to open a dental practice alongside it for years,” Dr Hsiau explained.

“For many reasons, the time was never right. However, my wife and I had a baby recently and Joanna also has a new baby and we so we thought that now was the time to step-up and take the plunge.”

Up until Awesome Smiles opened its doors in March, both Andy and Joanna were working at a very successful cosmetic practice on the lower north shore. Andy still does a day a week at that practice, while Joanna now works full time as the practice manager and clinical coordinator at the new Awesome Smiles.

“The location for the practice was always going to be driven by the opportunity to be associated with a very successful medical practice that would immediately become a strong referral source,” Dr Hsiau said. “Neither Joanna nor I live near Hurstville, so we did do a lot of research on the area to see how we could create a point of difference.

“Healthpac has built its success on combining contemporary medicine with traditional Chinese Medicine and providing a premium service to its patients.

We similarly believed we could create a point of difference in the area and so we set about designing the new practice accordingly.”

The site for Awesome Smiles was created by combining the conference room, a consulting room and a corridor from the medical centre into a completely separate, 87-square-metre space. The L-shaped area has windows on one side and its own separate entrance on the other. Andy and Joanna then set about trawling through surgery design features published in Australasian Dental Practice to assemble ideas for the layout of the new practice.

“We didn’t use a design company for the practice,” Dr Hsiau said. “We came up with the floorplan between us and then worked with a very good builder we knew to put it all together.

“We wanted the practice to have a clean, contemporary feel without being over the top. We wanted it to be very practical as well as allowing us to provide a high quality of care for our patients, both in and out of the chair.”

Awesome Smiles has made good use of the space with the layout incorporating a waiting and reception area, three treatment rooms, sterilisation area, OPG room, patient refresh area, a combined office and consulting room and storage.

The waiting area, reception and consult room are separated from the clinical areas by a floor-to-ceiling etched glass partition that transmits light whilst ensuring privacy. A glass sliding door separates the two areas that opens automatically on approach.

Polished wooden floorboards are used in the administrative areas of the practice whilst coved vinyl flooring covers the floors in the clinical areas. White cabinetry and furniture is used throughout the practice with warm “latte” coloured bench and countertops.

The treatment areas on the clinical side of the practice are partitioned using more etched glass in metal frames, allowing an open feel with good light transmission, again whilst maintaining patient privacy.

Equipment for the practice is state-of-the-art European design.

“We have a great relationship with Ivoclar Vivadent and they have a very good reputation,” Dr Hsiau said. “So when it came time to look at equipment for the new practice, we were keen to see what they had to offer. We visited their showroom in Artarmon and looked at the complete range of Stern Weber dental units and Myray x-ray equipment they distribute.

“We hadn’t heard of Stern Weber before, however, we were surprised at the style and quality of the units. We wanted to invest in quality equipment because we know the value of reliability. Stern Weber were also very reasonably price for European made dental units and as a bonus, were available in an extensive colour palate of amazing, fun colours.

“We looked at equipment from several other suppliers, but we kept coming back to Stern Weber. The combination of solid, quality European construction and the service reputation of Ivoclar Vivadent meant that in the end, the decision was an easy one.”

Awesome Smile’s three treatment rooms each feature a brightly upholstered Stern Weber dental unit and the sterilisation area uses a Stern Weber Plus 17 autoclave. Ivoclar Vivadent also supplied the imaging solution thanks to Stern Weber’s sister brand, MyRay, with an Hyperion X7 panoramic x-ray unit and wall-mounted intraoral x-ray generators in each surgery. A Dürr VistaScan Mini PSP scanner provides digital intraoral x-rays, whilst Dürr equipment was also used for air and suction.

“We’re very happy with the choice of equipment we made,” Dr Hsiau said. “It looks great, works well and patients comment on how comfortable they are. The MyRay OPG is also a great asset and is very easy to use. It has computer-guided set-up so you get good images first time, every time.”

Images from both the MyRay Hyperion X7 and the Dürr VistaScan Mini PSP scanner are linked to the Oasis Practice Management Software System supplied by Teamwork Solutions.

Awesome Smiles was officially opened in May by The Hon. Mark Coure MP, the NSW member for Oatley. Since then, it has been full steam ahead. “We opened the doors in March with zero patients and have built it up from there,” Dr Hsiau said. “In general, the medical centre has been an excellent referrer and this, in turn, has begun to generate word-of-mouth referrals.

“Apart from just relying on being next door, we’re also working with the Doctors to address specific issues in their patient base.

For example, a lot of Chinese people have perio problems, so we’ve worked out a program to educate their patients about this.

“Joanna and I both have new babies at home, so we have first hand experience of mother’s groups work. This has again lead us to seek out these groups in the local area with an education campaign on oral health for recent mothers.”

Awesome Smiles’ perfect location and innovative marketing initiatives have seen the practice quickly become busy, with three additional dentists also now working from the practice.

“Opening our first practice has been a great experience and we can see the value of working in unison with a great referral source,” Dr Hsiau said. “Healthpac has locations all over Sydney and since I currently drive 2 hours each way to work, we’re already looking at a second location that is closer to home.”

Australasian Dental Practice. July/August 2013. Reproduced with permission.