Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I see them every day and I contemplate them. I’m talking about these little drive-up coffee shops that are in these tiny buildings. I admire small structures. They help one to become efficient and not have too much stuff.

When ever I go to the dentist I see a 3,000 square feet floor that is carved up into six operatories, a waiting room, an office, a lab, inner office and a lunchroom for the staff. I think back to Doc Meyer in my home town. His dental practice was housed in a building not much larger than a drive-up espresso stand.

One never needed an appointment with Doc Meyer. If his white Lincoln was parked out back, he was there and ready to work. It seemed he was always finishing with someone when the next someone walked in. After walking up the front steps, you entered the waiting room through a heavy door with a large glass window. There were four chairs in the room, though I never saw anyone waiting in there. The room was fifteen feet wide and ten feet deep.

There was another heavy door with wavy glass between the waiting room and the opreatory. The operatory was about the same size as the waiting room. Doc Meyer was usually tidying up when someone came in. He could have easily been mistaken for a barber because dentists wore what looked like barber shirts back then. Another odd thing was that he was in desperate need or orthodonture work. His teeth had major diastematic gaps between each one making his smile look as though he wore a set of Halloween waxed teeth.

The dental chair, which was very similar to a barber chair, was placed in the center of the room. His instruments were belt driven. Instead of suction tubes he had paper cups with water for rinsing and a ceramic cuspidor for expectorations.

Doc Meyer wore no mask, gloves, lab coats or scrubs. He processed his radiographs in the dark cellar beneath the operatory. He did his work without any of the modern equipment and gizmos found in practices these days. He did good work and he did it in a building that was no larger than 300 square feet.

I guess it is now expected that every practitioner will have all sorts of value added surroundings to wow their patients these days. Don’t you wonder how much a panoramic view of the Columbia River adds to your medical and dental bills? I wonder how much less a dental appointment would cost if my dentist worked out of a 300 square foot office like Doc Meyer did.


Blogger Hahn at Home said...

Now, they have to have a big space to house the 12 staff they need to file insurance claims and make collection calls and salespeople who double as dental technicians to sell you teeth whitening or capping or the $1,500 crown instead of the $700 crown (after insurance).

6:28 AM  
Anonymous walter richards said...

The dentist chairs and uniforms looked like barber chairs/uniforms because that's what they were. It was quite common in the west for the barber to also be the dentist, doctor, and mortician.

Of course, they didn't have as much schooling in the medical professions as is required now. lol

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a coincidence, you write about dentists, and I am going in for a root canal today. I must say I'm impressed with the technology of the camera and monitor right there so I can see pictures immediately. When I was growing up in Astoria I went to Dr. Jue, he did and still does, I guess, good work the old fashioned way. The best part about going to him when I was in Jr. High was that he always had a beautiful young voluptuous assistant kind of rubbing against you and holding your hand while he was drilling.

8:49 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Or how about the televisions installed in the waiting room, examining room and the (two) hygienists' offices? I'm paying for that too.
And absolutely nothing makes a dentist appointment relaxing or entertaining.

8:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous II said...

I was fine reading Auntie, but when I switched to your blog and saw that chair, I was back in Dr. Potratz's office, a child enduring intolerable pain and spitting blood that whirled in a circle. It seems now that it was all in slow motion.

10:35 AM  

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