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View From The Chairside

View from the Chairside: how do you gauge a successful new patient emergency visit?

Joel Pic

By Dr. Joel Antel

Dr. John O’Keefe, CDA Director of Knowledge Networks, sat down with Dr. Joel Antel, to discuss what he considers to be a successful new patient emergency visit.

Dr. Joel Antel is a general dentist in Winnipeg Manitoba. He graduated from the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Dentistry in 1979. Dr. Antel has written, consulted and lectured on practice management/patient communications and is the chair of the Manitoba Dental Association Communication Committee.

Read the full transcript of the interview (PDF)

Listen to audio interview

Overall Indications

  • Address the patient’s reason for the emergency visit.
  • Establish a strong relationship with the patient.
  • Ensure you’ve laid the ground work for making good treatment choices then and in the future. 
  • You’ve been successful:
    • If the patient is willing to return for the examination, diagnosis and comprehensive treatment that is recommended.
    • If the patient tells you that they’ve had a better experience than what they had expected.
    • If the patient chooses the recommended treatment rather than the treatment they may have thought they needed. 
    • If the patient chooses your office for ongoing care.

Dentist’s Contribution to the Visit’s Success

  • Establish a rapport with the patient so that an educational informative discussion can take place. 
  • Hold an informal conversation with the patient rather than asking direct questions. 
  • Find out the patient’s values, priorities, and challenges that you have to overcome. 
  • Find out the patient’s level of dental knowledge and their capacity to comprehend the recommendations that you make.

Dental Team’s Contribution to the Visit’s Success 

  • Front-desk staff indicate to the patient that the focus is on his/her needs, comfort and well being. All other staff must follow the same approach. 
  • Don’t let systems and techniques prevent you from having a genuine relationship with the patient.

Early Indications of Success

  • Look for signs of apprehension that the patient might have or which might get reduced as the appointment goes on. Is there any patient resistance to having a discussion about treatment?
  • Ideally, the patient should take over the conversation about appropriate treatment, necessary follow-up and prevention of similar problems in the future. 

Three (3) Absolutely Essential Elements for a Successful Visit

  1. The dentist’s leadership and involvement
  2. Set realistic expectations for the first emergency visit
  3. Close off the appointment with a conversation about essential next steps


Do you have any particular question on this topic? Do you have any comments or suggestions? Email us at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

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  1. Amarjit Rihal October 21, 2013

    Great article Joel, an important reminder for everyone in the office

  2. Dentist in Winnipeg September 17, 2014

    Thanks for sharing the most Essential Elements for a Successful dental Visits. Involvement of the dentist in a patient, expectation of a emergency visit and converting an appointment. And even the staff plays a important role to keep success moving on.


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