For your dental office, it’s like a month of Black Fridays

Between the holiday rush and end of benefits year, your dentist may be oversubscribed

By Dr. Stephanie McGann, DMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

UTStephCollogoIt’s holiday time. Just in case you missed the catalogs stuffed in your mailbox. The thousands of emails with “extended black Friday savings” or the sparkling Christmas trees, waiting to replaced by valentine hearts on December 26th.

Yes, the year is coming to a close and while we rush around getting the perfect gifts, wrestling with outdoor lights, and contemplating the family gatherings, your dentist has one more thing on their list – crunch time.

Each year, as December rolls around dental practices across America have to deal with the holiday rush. No other time is the pressure on for dentists to hurry up and get it done.  As a dentist, a mom, a practice owner, an employer and sometimes even a patient – I thought a glimpse into the inside of the profession might be kind of fun.

Why year end crunch time?

Dental Benefit Blues, Many families have dental benefits that are “use it or lose it” these benefits do not roll over into the next calendar year.  For some families the first time they see a dentist is in December and if some dentistry is needed we are pressured to get it completed before the end of the year.  We all try to accommodate but there are really and truly only so many hours in a day.

College students returning home for the holidays. We often get calls from mom or dad that they need their teeth cleaned, before they go back.

Dental labs get backed up – With so many folks maximizing their dental benefits, the laboratory and support services get swamped.  Things that may take 5-6 days in the lab normally, but may take 7-10 days at this time of year. That’s not usually a problem except for the holiday, and crunch time.  And also, normal lab delivery times may be altered due to the busy schedules of the UPS and FedEx folks.

Emergencies – Unexpected dental concerns happen. This is no different except around the holiday and end of the year we are working to accommodate the concern and work around everyone’s holiday and travel plans.  Nothing ever happens when it’s convenient.

Down time – yes all of us folks in the dental industry are people too. We have families, school obligations, children with holiday concerts etc. Sometimes we have to put our own families first. This week, I will be leaving the office 90 minutes early to attend my daughter’s holiday concert. She has a solo.

Now it may seem as if I’m whining about being busy, I am not. I love being busy and after 25 years of practicing dentistry I love the rush and know that when I am done, we will have our office party and a few well deserved days off.  We plan for this.  The purpose of this glimpse is to show the reality of dentistry in December — so you have a better understanding of why when your dentist tells you something isn’t possible.

A few things to think about though: Don’t wait till December, if you have benefits, don’t procrastinate. If you have college-age kids, don’t wait till they walk through the door to call your dentist.  Most of all, be patient with your dental team, this is our busy time and we are trying our best to meet the needs of our patients, our employees and our families. It’s a bit like an entire month of black Fridays.

Still shopping?  Here is the dental holiday gift guide:

Sonicare toothbrush

Sonicare Kids

OralB 5000

Dental whitening gels or pens – ask your dentist what products they prefer.

If you have someone on your list who needs dental care – ask your dentist about a gift certificate for an exam and x-rays.

Stocking Stuffer idea there are many fun flavors of dental floss for even the pickiest person. Bacon floss anyone? For kids, check out the colorful box of Crayola toothpaste.

May the holiday season find you happy and healthy.


Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and along with her partner, Dr. Marie Scott, operates The Brandywine Smile Center, a family-friendly dental practice in Concordville. Dr. McGann has opened a new practice in Valley Township, Rainbow Valley Dental. She is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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