Dentists report that hygienist appointments are missed an average of 13% of the time, a survey by The Wealthy Dentist reveals, indicating that dental patients don’t seem to value dental hygiene appointments as much as they should.
Whereas regular appointments with the dentist are only missed 9% of the time, an indication that dental patients tend to respect their appointments more when a dentist is involved.
Rural dental patients showed the most respect for hygienists with dentists reporting only 3% of appointments missed, compared with suburban dentists who reported the highest percentages of hygiene patient no-shows.
The Wealthy Dentist survey revealed that all dental patients prefer to see their dentist with suburban, urban, and rural dentists all reporting low percentages of dental patient no-shows when dental appointments included a consultation with a dentist.
Here’s what dentists had to say about how they handle missed appointments —
“We usually do not charge them for the first offense, but call them to reschedule, and tell them if they miss again, we will have to charge them then.” (Illinois dentist)
“We don’t schedule patients after 2 missed appointments.” (Texas dentist)
“After 3 broken appointments, we put the patient on our VIP list where they can only get an appointment the day that they call if we have one available.” (Alabama dentist)
“We call them immediately to find out why they have missed the appointment. We educate them as to why it is crucial to keep their appointments. Not to mention that we have other patients waiting to be seen in that time slot if they had called and given enough notice. We’ll fire the patient after 3 ‘strikes’ if there is a pattern.” (General dentist)
“It’s a big challenge. I wish I had a great answer. We have a written policy in our newsletter to call at 10 minutes into the appt. We then send a letter. The first one is a warning — free — then a charge. We hear all the excuses imaginable, people less respectful than 30 years ago…” (Urban dentist)
“When they miss one appointment we immediately give them a friendly reminder about our broken appointment policy. We use Smile Reminders (text, e-mail, and phone) to remind our patients about their appointments 2 weeks, a few days, and the day before their appointment. This has greatly reduced our no shows to about 5% and also gives us time to fill their appointment if they have to move it. We are extremely happy with our low percentage of no-shows!” (Ohio prosthodontist)
“We made them prepay for future appointments and/or put them in a phantom column where they really have no time reserved. If they show up, we hope someone else doesn’t show up so we have time to work on them.” (Louisiana dentist)
“Try to reschedule them when they call. If not, have a list of unscheduled appointments to work from to fill empty appointment times.” (Connecticut dentist)
“We charge $50.00.” (California dentist)
Dentists, what has been you experience with missed dental appointments and how do you handle it?