How Much Time Do You Need in Your Schedule

Albert Einstein once said, “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” If you do not allow enough time in your schedule for the treatment you are delivering, it may feel like everything is happening at once.

And just as we each have different perspectives about time, you and your dental team will have different ideas regarding how much time is needed for treatment. And each of you will have different views regarding if appointments are scheduled appropriately.


Dentists commonly think about the time they are needed chairside. Chairside time includes getting patients numb, rendering treatment, and getting up to do exams for the hygiene team. By contrast, assistants and hygienists consider the total time from when the patient reaches the chair until the patient is dismissed and the room is cleaned up for the next appointment.

If you schedule a procedure for an hour and the dentist finishes in sixty minutes, you may consider that to be effectively scheduled. However, if another patient is due in that same operatory, you are now running about ten minutes late—the time it takes for the clinical team to turn over the room. In addition, if you know the dentist is needed chairside for an hour to complete the procedure and she will also have to do two exams during that same time block, you have to build in the extra time for the exams or else the appointment will run late.

Time Mangagement

If you want to improve your utilization of time, please review your schedules at least quarterly. Pick out some days that seemed to go well along with a few that were more challenging. Ask each person on the team to troubleshoot the schedules you picked and consider what would have made them more effective. Fine tuning how you schedule will help you greatly minimize those days when everything seems to be happening at once.

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