Color Is the Key to an Organized Operatory

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From setup and treatment to sterilization, Zirc’s Color Method is a personalized
color-coding system that improves office efficiency and team 

While building a brand-new dental office from scratch in Fort Worth, TX, Dr. Gregory Luk had two goals:

  1. Find the best way to stay organized.
  2. Make sure every available square foot of space was used to its fullest potential.

Dr. Gregory Luk

So, instead of packing each operatory full of tools, materials, and equipment, Dr. Luk suggested that the practice undergo the “ultimate reset” by adopting Zirc’s Color Method.

“Anytime you’re changing something, there’s usually a little bit of resistance,” Dr. Luk said.

Fortunately, it wasn’t hard to convince his practice partners at Fort Dental, Drs. Johnny Cheng and Chris Thorburn, that an organizational overhaul was the right way to go.

“If the cassette is purple, I know I’m doing an extraction. I know what instruments are inside and precisely where each of them would be.” – Gregory Luk, DDS

“I realized the best way to make sure that this was going to work was to do everything right from day one,” Dr. Luk said. “When we started implementing Color Method, we had efficiency experts from Zirc in the office for a full day to make sure we set it up correctly, which really boosted buy-in from the staff.”

Stress-Free Organization

Color Method is designed to improve storage, treatment, and sterilization methods by employing a personalized color-coding system that syncs up with every dental procedure. From cleanings and composite restorations to extractions and root canals, up to 16 color options can be paired with the routine procedures a practice performs.

“We took a lot of value from having Brittany and Tina, our efficiency experts, go through our systems with us. From the second we purchased Color Method, they were involved,” Dr. Luk said. “Having the Zirc team on-site was really helpful for the educational component, as it gave everyone a head start on their training and adjustment to the new organization system.”

He estimates that it took the assistants and sterilization technicians just a month to become acclimated with where things needed to go, as well as where to find them once put away.

Colors Lead the Way to Efficiency

Laura Bartko, a dental assistant at Fort Dental, said, “Adopting Color Method has been very helpful for someone new to the dental field, such as myself. As a new assistant, it not only helps me learn what instruments are needed for each procedure but also helps me feel organized and efficient. It makes setting up for procedures less nerve-racking since all I have to do is grab the tray and cassette color that corresponds to the procedure being done.”

Once a specific color is assigned to each procedure, all tools needed for the job are organized into tubs, trays, bur holders/guards, and cassettes, which makes identifying the tools needed for the procedure quick and easy, whether chairside or during sterilization. Also, by keeping the tools together, less time is wasted searching for out-of-place items. Clear tray covers ensure safe, sterile storage and transportation, while also minimizing the risk of cross-contamination.

“From a doctor’s perspective, I know exactly which procedure I am doing as soon as I sit down. If the cassette is purple, I know I’m doing an extraction. I know what instruments are inside and precisely where each of them will be,” Dr. Luk explained. “Plus, having the instruments actually stay in their cassettes solves the problem of instruments being lost.”

Bartko agreed, adding that it’s now easy to look at the schedule from day to day and set up trays for the procedures ahead of time. “If something is missing from a cassette, the colored bands around each instrument make it very quick and easy to find,” she added. “We no longer have random instruments lying around—everything has a home.”

Streamlining Sterilization

The sterilization setup at Fort Dental needed to have a natural, organized flow, with a side for dirty shelves, 2 large ultrasonic cleaners, 3 autoclaves (with additional room to accommodate 4), a wrapping station, and a place for clean shelves.

“Color Method has saved time in sterilization because I don’t have to sift through various different pouches to build instrument kits,” Bartko said. “It allows me to take a quick glance and see that everything is ready to go.” Tools never need to leave their cassettes for sterilization, which not only saves time, but limits handling of sterilized instruments.

“We used to have 8 metal cassettes that all looked the same, and I remember spending a lot of time looking through the autoclave window, questioning if the kit that was inside had what was needed,” recalled Dr. Luk. “Now, I take for granted that I can look inside and see right away that we have 2 extraction cassettes, 2 composites, and an implant tub, and know that we’re all set.”

Colors Breed Confidence

The beauty of Color Method is that there is no “right” way to implement the system—it is both highly customizable and easily modifiable.

“That was the hardest part, to decide with Brittany on how to use the Color Method since we have 3 different doctors, 6 or 7 different procedure types, and 7 hygienists,” Dr. Luk said, adding that they ultimately decided to label each procedure tub by doctor. “Because each of us does things a little differently, I have an Endodontics Tub with all the tools I like using for my root canals, and my partners have separate tubs with their go-to root canal tools. Having separate tubs and equipment means our assistants can grab the correct tub for the correct doctor and procedure for any room, with full confidence that the doctor will have everything they need.”

Transform your practice by organizing your instruments and materials effortlessly.


Originally published in Dental Product Shopper.