Scheduling & Treating Emergencies

December 9, 2019by Lisa Philip


How you engineer the schedule is of paramount importance for emergency management. Your history of the number of emergencies will determine the amount of pre- blocking you will need to do in your schedule.

If you do not record your history of emergencies, pre-block your schedule for two emergency blocks a day. Pre-blocking for a restorative schedule 4-6 weeks out will assure you try pre-blocking for a reasonable amount of time for it to take effect. Usually, the time blocks are 30-45 minutes depending on the telephone screening.

They are best reserved the last client of the morning and the first available appointment after lunch. This saves the team members from having to change gears in the middle of regular clients.

Prime time is not a time for emergencies, as this is reserved weeks in advance. A client who has a “true” emergency tends to abide by your schedule with little resistance. Some suggested verbal skills would help present alternatives that are available.

“Sally, Dr. Smith reserves time especially for last minute emergencies like yours. Which time today would work best for you, 12:15 or 2:00 pm? The benefit of 2:00 pm  is you are the first appointment after lunch.”



What you decide to do during the emergency exam is crucial to the acceptance of the treatment.

Use visual tools such as the digital or intraoral camera to show the client the condition of his or her mouth, make sure that the client becomes comfortable before leaving, or prescribe medication where appropriate and necessary.

The intent of an emergency visit is an examination and not meant to be a primary appointment procedure. If the client’s emergency warrants a financial discussion for informed consent, make arrangements and reschedule into your regular schedule.

Schedule a comprehensive exam between the palliative and final treatment phase. Once the full mouth diagnosis has been determined the doctor, assistant, or the treatment coordinator can explain the options available so the clients can make the best choice for themselves.

“Mrs. Smith, we have done everything to relieve your discomfort. Are you aware of how regular dentistry can prevent this from happening in the future?”


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Lisa Philip