Key Considerations for Your Dental Operatory Layout & Delivery Method

Evaluate and Select From Side, Rear or Over-the-Patient Delivery

Side Front Delivery (9–12 O’clock Delivery)

Side Front delivery has become very popular and offers the advantages of front instrument delivery without having any apparatus on top of the patient. In dynamic office designs there is a strong focus on functionality and ergonomics. The dental delivery cart positioned at the doctor’s dominant side requires the least amount of tasking movements during a procedure and works efficiently with microscope dentistry. The delivery system is mobile to allow positioning to be placed back against a wall or corner of the room to remove instruments from the patient’s view upon entering the treatment room. Mobile dental delivery carts with computer monitors provide the advantage of using the monitor for patient education along with practice management and treatment diagnosis.

A consideration when choosing a side front delivery system, is to have the foot control tubing run through a conduit under the floor. It can then exit behind the patient chair. This solution eliminates the need to position the foot control each time to use it.

Recommended Room Size for Dual Entry: 10’ – 12’ wide by 10’ – 12’ deep.
Recommended Room Size for Single Entry: 8’ – 10’ wide by 9’ – 12’ deep.


  • Provides excellent direct or indirect vision of instrumentation for the operator
  • Flexible work zone (9 – 12 o’clock positions)
  • Handpieces out of direct view of patient
  • Doesn’t interfere with microscope positioning
  • Easy access for patient entry/egress to chair
  • System can be hidden for clean look upon entering treatment room


  • Split delivery requires a wider treatment room than chair mounted or rear delivery
  • Assistant may not be able to reach instruments
  • Restricted to either right or left-handed operator (Quick connect options alleviate this restriction).
Dental Operatory Layout - Dual Entry
Dental Operatory Layout - Single Entry

Rear Wall Delivery

Rear wall delivery, or 12 o’clock delivery, places both the Doctor’s and Assistant’s instruments at the rear of the room. Having one utility location simplifies plumbing and may reduce installation costs. For ergonomic consideration, it places the instruments conveniently in front of the assistant to transfer to the Doctor. However, this does require the dentist to more fully utilize the dental assistant and requires a more experienced and adept assistant. Ideal for patient experience as instruments are out of view. Can work well in narrow but longer rooms.

Recommended Room Size: 9’ – 12’ wide by 10’ – 12’ deep.


  • Handpieces out of direct view of the patient
  • Doesn’t interfere with microscope positioning
  • Instrumentation is easily accessible to assistant
  • Easy access for patient entry/egress to chair
  • No junction box or umbilicals around base of chair


  • Can be used in a narrow room
  • Requires additional hand-to-hand operational movements to reach instruments. (This can be alleviated if assistant transfers handpieces to dentist.)
  • Requires longer handpiece tubing
  • Requires longer treatment room
Dental Operatory Layout - Rear Wall Delivery
Dental Operatory Layout - Plumb-free Rear Wall Delivery

Over-The-Patient/Chair Mounted Delivery

The Over-The-Patient chair mounted unit design has been around for over fifty years and typically this delivery method is promoted by manufacturers as a package with a chair. It is not recommended for current treatment room designs because of the outdated look and negative patient experience it creates. There are several major drawbacks to over-the-patient style. The possibility of decreased patient comfort coupled with raised patient anxiety occurs. Interference with microscope positioning is another potential problem. Additionally, size and weight constraints for the mechanical arms may limit the integration of new technologies.

Recommended Room Size: 8’ – 12’ wide by 9’ – 12’ deep.


  • Requires minimum size treatment room
  • Can be mounted for both right and left-handed operators


  • Instruments in front of patient’s eyes (can cause anxiety)
  • Handpiece tubings may drag on patient’s arm
  • May cause patient to feel trapped
  • Patient entry/egress to chair can be restricted
  • May limit instrument integration
  • Unit may interfere with microscope placement
Dental Operatory Layout - Over the Patient