Opportunities with Emergencies

Thomas Edison once said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”  One of the biggest practice building opportunities missed by dentists and teams is to guide new patient emergencies into comprehensive care.  It’s not always easy, but as Edison implied in his quote if you are willing to work at it, you will see results.


The first step is to invite emergency patients into the schedule for comprehensive care.  Too many times, patients are never invited.  Instead, they receive treatment and walk out the door, or practices refer patients to a specialist and never see them again.  The invitation means the most coming from the dentist—reinforced by the clinical team—and the best time to ask is during that first visit.

The second obstacle to overcome is motivating the new patient emergency to schedule.  If you tell the new patient to come in for an exam, FMX, and prophy, you’ve done little more than confuse that person.  Think about the value the patient receives from comprehensive care.  Talk in terms of value and in a language the patient understands.

“John, I recommend that you come in for a complete exam where I can assess the health of your entire mouth and not just this tooth that hurts.  Then we can put together a plan for taking care of treatment needs before you end up with another tooth ache.”

Dental Patient and Dentist

Finally, communicate the importance of scheduling for comprehensive care in the hand-off from back to front.  This will make it easier for the front team to guide the patient into the schedule.

Converting new patient emergencies into comprehensive care is not always easy.  However, with the right plan and good teamwork, you can add more long-term patients to your practice.

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