Appoint Existing Patients with an Emergency



It happens frequently:

An existing patient calls who has not been in for some time.  He or she has an “emergency” with a tooth that is hurting.

Before you do the expedient thing by asking which tooth it is, take a moment to do the patient a favor:

You: I’m sorry to hear you are having a problem.  Do you mind holding for a moment while a get your records?


You:  “I have your chart here and I bet you are having problems with the tooth on the lower left.  Am I right?”  (Make the best guess you can without asking which tooth.)

Patient:  “No, it is the tooth on the upper left.”

You:  “That’s interesting because the one on the lower left looks like it would be the one that would give you problems before the upper one.”

It looks like your body is starting to tell you something.  This is probably not going to be an isolated incident because there are other teeth that are much worse off. Let’s go ahead and schedule you right away to take care of the immediate problem and while you are here, we will do an exam so you can have an update on your current health and what you can do so this doesn’t happen again.  Does that make sense?”


  1. The best way to get a patient on the right track is with current records and a treatment plan.  The best time to do that is in one visit when urgency is compelling them to come in rather than trying to convince them to come back for an exam after the urgency is gone.
  2.  We all need a little push from time-to-time. When their body gives patients a reminder that their health is being neglected, get them on the right track NOW!

So, Look for opportunities to help your patients do the right thing for their mouth and their health.  Sometimes all they need is a little direction from you.

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