Project Spotlight

Tend's Design-First Approach Makes Dentistry (Nearly) Phobia-Free

Soft pastel hues, Beats headphones playing soothing nature documentaries, artsy brush-and-selfie studios—Tend isn't a revolution in oral health, it's the experience we should have expected all along.

Let’s face it: no one likes going to the dentist. And they know it. You need us more than we need you, they seem to say. Come for the scraping and drilling; stay for the sterile, lifeless confines. That’s where Tend comes in. Former SmileDirectClub CEO Doug Hudson co-founded the New York City startup with something of a quotidian moonshot: take the routine out of dental hygiene, and make biannual checkups experiences rather than chores.

Tend does this by mirroring “touchpoints” in the hospitality process. It’s how the sleek, muted tones and utter clarity of its website flow seamlessly into the in-person experience. It’s how you forget, until you’re peering up at the ceiling-mounted television through Warby Parker sunglasses and basking in the dulcet tones of Sir David Attenborough through Beats headphones, that you selected Our Planet when you scheduled. Brushing your teeth isn’t so mundane when you’re doing it inside of an artistic selfie studio with custom sinks by Montreal makers Concrete Cat.

Everything is cohesive. The paint and wall coverings speak to the honey-colored cabinets, which speak to the custom carpets and tooth-shaped fixtures, which speak to the fine-tuned lighting. Tend’s language is calm. So, yeah, patients may leave appropriately shamed about their non-existent flossing regimen. But they may actually be glad to return and report on their progress.

Below, the Tend team gives us the scoop on the company ethos. 

Description: Launched in October 2019, Tend was created to set a new standard for oral health by providing dentistry the way it should be—hassle-free, personalized, and straightforward, with a focus on patient happiness—all in a calm, inviting, and thoughtfully-designed space. With 21 locations across New York City, Nashville, Washington, DC. and Boston (and more to come), Tend’s tens of thousands of members sing its praises for creating a patient experience that begins with seamless booking, continues into an in-person experience fueled by hospitality touchpoints in minimalist pastel–hued spaces, and extends into their daily lives with a suite of dentist-designed consumer products.

Inspiration: People have come to expect so little from dentistry. The experience is usually frustrating, anxiety-inducing, and far from pleasant. As the world’s first dental wellness experience, we aim for a higher standard. When conceptualizing the design, the real estate and development team found inspiration outside of the medical world, taking cues from the hospitality industry with details commonly found in boutique hotel lobbies and buzzy restaurants. 

Blueprint: Tend uses a distinct design identity, including a warm, muted color palette and smooth, rounded forms to create a soothing environment that’s a joy to be in—reframing the entire dental experience as a whole. 

In the exam rooms, or “Suites,” colors are muted to soothe, and equipment is positioned out of the way to minimize clutter and intimidation. A designated personal area allows members to hang their coats and bags, charge their phones, freshen up at a vanity, and take goodies home with them. Large windows provide an abundance of natural light for an open and airy feel, while enclosed suites with frosted glass are also available for added privacy if patients desire. 

Uniqueness: The Welcome Bar is patients’ first physical touchpoint in their clinical journey, so we aim to make it as aesthetically soothing and physically comforting as possible with warm woods, custom green concrete tables, green tiles with a floss-like pattern, and a playful wall covering that mimics the texture of toothpaste. Portrait photography of mouths of all kinds convey the message that all are welcome. Ambient lighting is a warmer temperature than average healthcare spaces, and a departure from the often severe fluorescent medical lighting typically found in dental practices. 

After checking in, patients are encouraged to visit The Brushery, a custom sink bar for hand washing and mouth rinsing, adorned with warmly lit illuminated mirrors to create a selfie moment. Inspired by brushing, swishing, and swirling, the space celebrates the sensory richness of everyday oral wellness. It also features custom sinks poured by Concrete Cat, an artist studio in Montreal commissioned to craft a custom Oracle pattern to match Santtu Mustonen’s wallpaper that wraps The Brushery walls and ceiling.

Tend is a member of The List , the destination for all things Surface -approved. Want to join The List ? Contact our team to find out how to apply.



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