Waiting — What a Waste of Time!

by | Jan 24, 2022 | General Dentistry

After fear of the dentist, time is one of the biggest reasons that many people avoid scheduling dental procedures. We all get it! Your time is valuable, and you should not have to wait! A dental appointment can certainly throw your schedule for a loop. The only thing more difficult than trying to fit an appointment into an already packed day is juggling your schedule when that appointment begins late. That is why Sierra Smiles has implemented a new patient offer:

You will be seated within five minutes of your scheduled time, or your visit is free.

We want our patients to feel confident that when they schedule an appointment with Sierra Smiles, their time will be respected and valued. Every member of our team has experienced a late appointment in their personal lives. We all understand the frustration of arriving on time and then being forced to wait. We don’t want our patients to experience that with our practice. We’ve been working to develop systems and protocols to account for a variety of circumstances that make dentists run behind schedule.

Why is my dentist running late?

While we work to ensure you never have to wait for an appointment to begin on time, it might be helpful to share a little behind-the-scenes insight into why your dentist may be pushing into that 5-minute window. It will also help you understand the steps we are taking to eliminate these issues. While we start every morning on time, the day can quickly become exceptionally busy and the little errors or challenges can easily put our team behind. Let’s take a look at a few reasons your dentist might get behind.

Patients arriving late: Just like we experience challenges, so too do our patients. Traffic or sick kids or a missed alarm can make a patient late to their appointment. We have a 15-minute window to accommodate these issues, but sometimes we will work with a patient to bypass that cancellation procedure. This is especially true if the patient has a critical appointment or if rescheduling would cause unnecessary or prolonged pain. We know that our patients made time to show up and we don’t want to penalize them for situations outside of their control whenever possible. Patients can help us with these issues by calling if they know they are going to be late. We can then work to move a waiting patient into the slot or call other patients and ask if they’d like to arrive early.

Unexpected administrative tasks: Our dentists don’t just handle patient care. They are often required to manage a variety of tasks throughout the day that are office-related. Your dentist may be in an unusually long call with the pharmacy trying to manage medications for a hurting patient. They may be on hold with the insurance company trying to resolve an approval issue at the last minute so someone can get the care they need. We are establishing more time between appointments to allow our team time to manage these types of circumstances.

Technical difficulties: Now this is a problem we think everyone can relate to on some level. While our hygienists and dentists work in person, a surprising amount of our work is also conducted with computers. X-rays are completed using machinery and computers, as are other important tasks, such as creating crowns with the CEREC machine. If any of these systems go down, it can cause a lot of delays for our team and our patients. While these types of malfunctions are unforeseeable, we have been working to create improved backup plans to help operations continue smoothly until everything is back up and running.

Procedural complications: No matter how well we try to plan, won’t dentist can run into unexpected problems during a common procedure. For example, a patient’s mouth may take longer to respond to the anesthetic than expected, adding extra time to the procedure. A particularly tricky cavity may increase the time the dentist must spend on a filling. Whatever the problem, this can make appointments bump into one another.

Patient fears: Fear of the dentist is a very common problem for many patients. Whether someone has been influenced by negative media portrayals of dental care or had an unfortunate past experience at the dentist, the fear is real. Calming a scared patient before their treatment is critical to creating positive associations with dental care, so our dentists and hygienists work hard to be patient and informative. To reduce the number of times this might impact our schedule, we try to keep patients well-informed about their options for medication or other procedures that can help them start the appointment calmly.

Staffing challenges: Your safety is very important to us. As such, our staff is dedicated to staying home when sick to prevent the transmission of illness. This is particularly important right now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our hygienists and dentists work more closely with our patients than any other profession. We mask up and wear all appropriate equipment, but we also do our part in keeping illnesses at home. This is important even when there is not a global pandemic. Part of valuing your time is ensuring that we don’t get you sick and make you miss work or important life events. The flu or a bad cold can be just as inconvenient as any other illness. As with technical difficulties, a sick staff member is often an unexpected circumstance. And as with technical difficulties, we have been working to create protocols for adjusting so the absence doesn’t impact our patients.

Seated Within 5 Minutes of Your Scheduled Time or Your Visit is Free

With this offering for new patients, you can count on Sierra Smiles to be the one thing that goes right in your day! And if for some reason, you find yourself waiting past the 5-minute grace period, you won’t be expected to pay the associated costs. Schedule an appointment with confidence! Contact us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon.