Learning Dental Restorative Schedule: Introduction
Learning dental restorative scheduling is going to take a little time. If you are a brand new dental administrator, take a deep breath and just know you’ll get there! And if you are a dentist, practice manager, or trainer, it’s all going to be okay! I’ve got you!
The dental restorative schedule is your money. Yes, money matters here! The dental restorative schedule is a really big deal!! Realistically, the dental office provides a health care service to it’s patients. But it is still a business. Like any successful business, the dental practice needs great business systems. And it also needs fabulous people who are well trained to manage those systems.
There is a serious balancing act involved in dentistry. Because dentistry involves taking care of people’s health, there is a balance to achieve and maintain. Those of us who work in dentistry and do well, know that balance. It’s a balance between caring for the health of our patients and caring for the health of a business. How do we do this and do it well?
Superior Customer Service
The most successful businesses excel in customer service! Dentistry is no different. The most successful dental practices I have worked in, have also put customer service first. That doesn’t mean that you give away the farm! For me, it really means that the business systems don’t come first.
My business systems are meant to help the dental practice care for more patients. And we can do this when we improve efficiency. Efficiency truly improves our ability to better care for more patients! How? We learn a great system. And then the system allows us to focus on patient care.
Set your mind on higher things. So, it’s really important for me to say, as you work to develop your business systems, keep your heart and mind set on patient care. Take what you need from the systems I have developed and shared with you. Use this as inspiration in our own dental practice. Learning dental restorative scheduling is multi-dimensional. It is also rewarding in so many ways.
Learning Dental Restorative Scheduling: Appointment Types
There are different appointment types to schedule into your dentist’s day. These different dental appointments require different amounts of time from your dentist and dental assistant. Different types of appointments also have different costs.
Not all dental offices actually do the same kinds of procedures. Some dental offices specialize in certain kinds of dental care. Some dentists prefer to do certain procedures over others. Learning dental restorative scheduling is individualized for each individual dental practice. Let’s take a look at some of these different types of appointments.
Please keep in mind that these dental procedures are being categorized for scheduling purposes.
- Major Restorative Dental Care: Includes Procedures Such As Implants, Bridges, Crowns, Veneers, Dentures.
- Basic Restorative Dental Care: Includes Procedures Such As Root Canals, Fillings, Night Guards
- Non-Productive Dental Care: Includes Crown & Bridge Inserts, Denture Secondary Appointments, Denture & Night Guard Delivery, Emergency Dental Appts, Follow Ups & Post Op Care
Block scheduling will help your dental practice meet monthly production goals. A scheduling template can help you to create the best daily schedule for your dentist and dental practice. Understanding the different appointment times and knowing their production value will help you plug the right appointment in at the right time.
Time to gather some info. At this stage in the game, you need to gather some info. Do you have a daily production goal for your dental restorative schedule? What is that goal? Do you have the perfect scheduling template or do you need to create one? What procedures does your dentist actually do? What procedures will you need to plug into your dentist’s schedule?
Don’t forget about doctor and assistant time. Another huge piece of scheduling well, is knowing how the time breaks down for each procedure by doctor and assistant. We’re going to take a look at this by procedure type.
Major Restorative Appointments
Schedule enough major restorative appointments to meet your daily goal with these appointments only. Although you will be adding other secondary and non-productive appointments to your restorative schedule, this is the meat of your schedule. Everything else added will be gravy and you won’t have any trouble reaching goals if you follow this practice.
Doctor & Assistant Time
Understanding doctor vs. dental assistant time is crucial when scheduling. When you are scheduling any appointments in the restorative schedule, you want to be sure you really understand how much time the dentist needs with your patient, and how much time the dental assistant needs with the patient.
Let me give you an example of this with a crown procedure. One dentist I worked for, asked for a 1-3-3 when he scheduled a crown appointment. What he meant by that was 1 unit of assistant time at the beginning of the crown appointment. The next 3 meant that he wanted 3 units of time with him to follow. The final 3 of this appointment time meant assistant time to make the temporary.
I knew not to schedule him in more than one place at a time. During those 3 units that the dentist was working on this patient’s crown, I couldn’t schedule anything else for him to do. This time was the 30 minute window he needed alone with his patient to prep the crown.
Basic Restorative Appointments
Most basic restorative appointments require a lot of doctor time. For example, a root canal can be very time intensive for your doctor. However, a root canal appointment requires a lot of set up time and clean up time for the dental assistant. Those times should be considered when scheduling your patient. The room turnover must be considered when scheduling your patients.
Don’t schedule any other procedures next to fillings on your schedule. Remember that your dentist is one person. They cannot be doing filling procedures and root canals at the same time. Your patients will be kept waiting, your schedule will run behind, and everyone will be stressed if you overbook your dentist.
Extractions are another secondary procedure. Depending on the tooth, extractions can be simple, or can turn your schedule upside down. Think about scheduling any extractions that could be difficult at a time when you can take a little extra time if you need to. Hopefully your dental assistants and dentists are communicating this to you as you are scheduling.
Less Productive Secondary Appointments
Night Guards and Whitening Trays are generally assistant times. If this is so in your dental practice, you can most likely book these assistant procedures next to doctor time when no other production can be booked.
New Patient Exams Are Time Consuming But Unproductive. However, you want these in your schedule every day! The new patient appointment may not bring a large dollar amount into your schedule Today. But we are looking to the future!
Your dentist will probably want 30 minutes or so with your new patient. You can definitely schedule the x-rays with assistant time, but be sure to schedule your dentist “alone” time with their new patient.
Remember, that all of your daily production goal is going to be met with your major production procedures. So, the unproductive dental procedures can be scheduled into your day as they are needed. But you definitely need to watch out for some things when scheduling unproductive procedures.
These are usually shorter appointments but still require room turnover. Be careful not to stack shorter appointments on top of each other or back to back. Space these unproductive appointments well in your daily schedule. Your team will thank you. Keep in mind, that all of your patients coming in and out of the office need your attention too. Don’t make things too crazy for everyone.
Emergency dental appointments are unproductive short appointment times. The idea is to evaluate your patient in this time, get them comfortable. Maybe a prescription is needed or a sedative filling. I recommend adding 2 small blocks a day to allow for dental emergency patients. You might want to take a look at your own practice needs before really making this decision.
Be careful with additional denture appointments here. Initial denture appointments are typically doctor time, and are major production appointments. However, there are additional appointments that follow. Bite registration, try-in appointments, and the final delivery. All of the appointments that come after the initial impressions are unproductive but involve your doc.
It’s critical to watch how your scheduling appointments next to each other! Don’t schedule assistant time next to assistant time. Every unit counts. When you are scheduling in 2 or even 3 operatories, watch what appointments you are booking next to one another. The dentist should be with a patient in every unit of the day, but never overlapping. Dental assistant time is the same.
Learning Dental Restorative Scheduling: Emergency Patient Calls
Dental emergency patients should be seen the same day, even if you don’t have a scheduling block to put them in! However, there are times when a patient will call with a dental emergency and they ask to be scheduled a day or two out. If the patient is requesting a delay in scheduling, it is usually okay. But, there are some things to ask and consider in doing so.
If your patient does not want a same day emergency appointment, ask about swelling. You will want to know if your patient has any swelling in their face or mouth. Find out how much swelling if it does exist. It may be that an antibiotic prescription can be phoned in for patient to begin taking immediately if they are unable to get into the office. Be sure to review this with your dentist.
Try to talk with your dental team, especially your doc and the dental assistants each morning about the schedule. Ask where they would like to see emergency patients scheduled each day. They will have a better feel for the individual patient’s dental needs that are on the day’s schedule.
Learning Dental Restorative Scheduling: Scripts
What we say and how we say it matter. Tone, eye contact, and the very words we choose can make or break or dental restorative schedule. Develop some basic scripting to keep you and your patients on target – scheduling.
Treatment presentation should happen with someone who can schedule the appointment too. Some dental offices have their major treatment presented at the reception desk. While other dental offices have major treatment explained to their patients by a treatment coordinator. However you choose to do this, the person explaining treatment and cost should also be scheduling the patient at that time.
Clear communication is a must! Have all your ducks in a row. Understand what treatment is needed for your patient, what the cost is, how many appointments are needed, and how much time is needed for each appointment.
All of the information can be handed to you on a patient visit form. Or you can read it in a chart note. Know the system. For example, the dental assistant could tell you that Mr. Jones needs a crown on tooth #19. 2 appointments will be needed. The first appointment is a 1-3-3. The second appointment is 12 days later and is a 1-2-1.
Learning Dental Restorative Scheduling: Short Notice Call List
Creating a short notice call list will help the dental front office keep the restorative schedule booked. No matter what your cancellation policy or reschedule policy might be, patients are going to need to reschedule. Life happens. Things change. The world doesn’t revolve around your dental office. It never will.
Create an insurance plan for your restorative schedule. Ask every patient that you schedule if you can them with schedule changes. You can then move an appointment forward.
Just be sure to move like appointments forward. For example, you want to move crown appointments into crown appointments. Implant appointments would move forward into implant appointment times that opened. You can always schedule up in moving appointments forward, but never schedule down in production.