9 Tips for streamlining dental appointment scheduling

Diana Sievers

9 min read Last Updated Jan 27, 2023

a dentist doing a procedure during dental appointment scheduling

Appointment scheduling can be a pain for dental offices. There are so many things to consider, from the type of dental services and availability to insurance coverage and billing. Luckily, there are a few things dentists can do to streamline the process and make life a little bit easier. Here are nine tips for streamlining dental appointment scheduling.

1. Keep track of availability

As a dentist, one of the most important things to keep track of is your patient appointments. After all, you want to make sure you can accommodate as many patients as possible while also giving yourself time for breaks between appointments.

The best way to streamline dental appointment scheduling is by using a dental scheduling system that can track availability in real time. This allows you to quickly and easily check the status of your appointments, so you know when you’re overbooked and when there’s room for new patients.

A dental scheduling system can also help you manage your staff more efficiently, assign appointments, and track employee hours. With this convenient tool, dental appointment scheduling becomes quick and simple, helping you maximize efficiency and provide better patient care.

2. Offer dentist online scheduling

Since more and more people are doing everything on the internet, why not make things easy for your patients and let them schedule their dentist appointment online? This will save you time on phone calls and make it more likely that patients will schedule an appointment with you.

With online dental scheduling systems, patients can find time slots that work for them and book their appointments from anywhere. Online dental scheduling helps you streamline your workflow and manage appointments with ease so you can focus on providing the best possible dental care to your patients.

3. Consider appointment reminders

Having no-shows wastes your time, energy, and resources. Not only that, it’s extremely costly for your practice. Studies show that if about one in five patients doesn’t show up, it can cost a single provider more than $150,000 per year

If you haven’t done this already, consider using appointment reminders for your patients. Appointment reminders are a great way to reduce no-shows. You can either send out appointment reminders yourself or use a service that will do it for you. 

With a dental scheduling system, you can easily input patient information and send out automated reminders. You’ll always be organized and on top of your patient visits. 

Whether you use text messages, email notifications, or voice reminders, these handy tools can help streamline dental appointment scheduling – from initial inquiries to confirmations and everything in between.

4. Schedule in blocks of time

Dental appointment scheduling blocks of time example

Many dental professionals successfully use block scheduling to streamline the process and make dental appointments as convenient as possible for their patients. Blocking off time increments on the calendar makes it possible for dentists to see multiple patients at once, which can, in turn, reduce wait times and improve patient satisfaction. 

With block scheduling, the day is divided into blocks for each task – procedures, fillings, or cleanings –so there’s no overlapping work between those times. You can maximize your revenue and optimize patient flow by using this type of schedule. 

Scheduling appointments in blocks of time instead of back-to-back will give you some much-needed breathing room between patients. You’ll always stay on schedule and provide the best patient experience each time. 

5. Keep an eye on appointment cancellations

Cancellations are inevitable, but it’s important to keep a close eye on them. As we mentioned earlier, cancellations and no-shows can be costly for your practice. On the flip side, canceled appointments can be a valuable resource for dentists. They give providers a chance to fill gaps in their schedule and see patients who might have otherwise gone untreated.

By checking in with your office staff throughout the day, you can stay up-to-date on which appointments are canceled or rescheduled and adjust your plans accordingly. Your dental practice can also take advantage of these cancellations by contacting any incoming or “waiting” patients about potentially scheduling earlier appointments. 

By paying close attention to cancellations, dentists can make sure every appointment is filled, and every patient gets timely and effective treatment. After all, being able to fit your patients in when they need you most will help your dental practice keep existing patients happy and help attract new ones.
For more information on keeping your patients happy, check out our article called “Dental complaints: 5 most common issues patients raise & how to resolve them.

6. Be flexible with dental appointment scheduling changes

Whether a dental appointment is canceled at the last minute or rescheduled for a different day, many dental offices are willing to be flexible with their schedules. Scheduling often involves reprioritizing appointments and working with patients who need more time. 

Many offices will also try to accommodate busy working professionals by offering early morning or late evening appointments, helping patients get the dental care they need without interfering with their busy schedules. Try to be as flexible as possible when appointments need to be changed. That way, your patients won’t get frustrated and go elsewhere for their dental needs.

7. Get help if needed

Scheduling appointments can be overwhelming, especially if you’re running a busy practice and multiple locations. If you’re getting bogged down with dental practice management, don’t be afraid to get help from your staff or an outside service like appointment scheduling software.

For example, your staff members can help keep track of appointments and communicate with patients as needed. Ideally, dental offices should have at least one staff member dedicated to handling appointment scheduling and communication with patients. Of course, this also means empowering them to ask for help or delegate tasks to other team members if needed.

Another option is to find an outside service for help with dental appointment scheduling. These services offer comprehensive support for dental practices of all sizes. They often come equipped with advanced features like automated reminders, customized templates for different types of appointments, and more. 

Ultimately, whether you work with your team or seek extra support from an external service, taking steps toward managing your dental appointments more effectively will save you time and help promote better patient care overall.

8. Make use of technology

Today, dentists have access to a wide range of tools and resources designed to make appointment scheduling more efficient. For example, dental appointment booking software makes it easy for patients to book their own appointments online. Additionally, online dental appointment calendars can be easily integrated into dental websites, providing patients with even more convenient ways to book appointments.

By embracing technology, dentists can streamline their appointment scheduling processes, make better use of their time, reduce overall costs, and provide faster care for their patients. There are plenty of great dental scheduling software programs out there that can help with appointment scheduling. Find one that works well for your needs.

Check out our article on how to improve patient care with a medical appointment scheduler to see what you should look for when choosing an appointment scheduling software.

9. Create a dental scheduling system and stick to it

At the core of any successful dental practice is an effective and consistent dental appointment scheduling system. Whether you’re scheduling regular dental appointments or emergency visits, it’s important to have a system that works well for everyone. A quality system should include everything from scheduling patient visits to deciding how long patients should wait between appointments.

A system helps dentists and staff members stay organized, making it easier to manage their schedules and plan for events like peak seasons or unexpected demand for services. Additionally, by having a clear set of rules in place for dental appointment scheduling, dental offices can better communicate with their patients about what to expect.

Having a consistent system for scheduling appointments will help keep things organized and running smoothly. Once you find a system that works well for you, stick with it, so everyone knows what to expect. Staying consistent is essential for maintaining a well-run practice.

Frequently asked questions about dental appointment scheduling

What does a dental scheduler do?

A dental scheduler or scheduling coordinator helps make sure that patients are scheduled appropriately, keeps the schedule productive, fills any openings in the schedule, and confirms patients are aware of their next visit.

How do I keep my dentist schedule full?

Staying on schedule, moving up future appointments, and contacting clients who haven’t been seen in a year will all help to keep your dental schedule full.

How can a dental office increase productivity?

Dental offices can increase productivity by improving patient interactions and communications, simplifying the patient intake process, and reducing time spent in the waiting room.

How do I make a dental schedule?

To make a dental schedule, try block scheduling, where each work day is divided into blocks for each task, like consultations, procedures, fillings, or cleanings.

Make dental appointment scheduling easy with Birdeye

Staying on top of dental appointments isn’t always easy. There are many factors to consider, like treatment type, availability, cancellations, and rescheduling. With Birdeye Appointments, you can streamline the process. Your patients will have the option to book and confirm their appointments through text, social, or other communication channels they prefer. Chat with one of our Birdeye experts to learn more. Or, click on the banner below to watch a demo.

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Originally published Oct 31, 2022, updated