It's that time of year again

Editor's note: Dr. Doniger's column, Dental Diaries, appears regularly on the advice and opinion page, Second Opinion.

Seriously, where has the time gone? I clearly remember it being Halloween, then November flew by. With Thanksgiving a not so distant memory, and now Hanukkah complete, the year is rapidly coming to a close.

And yes, it is that time of year again. I'm not referring to holiday time, although there are many festivities and celebrations yet to happen for the remaining weeks of December. I'm referring to the patients who forgot they had to visit us during the year.

I really enjoy December. Everyone finally remembers they have teeth that need care. Dental benefits to finish up; flex spending to find a happy home. College students home on the only break of the year. It is fantastic. Of course, every patient has emergent needs (that could have been treated earlier in the year). This year, especially, we are truly enjoying the frenetic activity in the office.

For a year that saw a definite economic slowdown for many dental offices, December is usually the month where we do our most dentistry. Interestingly, my dental lab called the other day and asked if I changed ceramicists. I thought that was a telling statement -- the lab asking why we were not sending the expected number of cases. Apparently, we were not alone; the lab's workload had dropped off from other sending doctors as well. I told them that patients were not readily accepting dental treatment recommendations this year but the procedures are still in their plans.

Our office was probably like many offices around the U.S. Patients are still only cautiously optimistic about the future, but they are considering dental options that they put on hold for a period of time. So December is gaining in patient scheduling popularity, and the team is thrilled.

December is also the month that dental manufacturers and dealers remind us we have money to spend for tax credits. Section 179 tax deductions allow us to deduct the full price of equipment purchased or leased during the year of purchase. This code was created to allow us to invest in ourselves. The good news is that this law has not changed, and they actually doubled the limits. This in a time when we do not know what is going to happen to tax credits. There are other nuances to this law, but this is the year to take advantage of the deductions.

This month we also have to get organized for our end of the year visit to the accountant. Getting receipts, canceled checks, payroll data, production numbers, and other relevant information in order is necessary to be ready for the close of the fiscal year.

Finally, it is also a month to consider charitable donations. Although the fate of any tax credits is dubious at this point and some are saying wait until next year to make donations, it is always good to give back at this time. As they say, it is always better to give than receive. We are truly blessed and receive so much from our families, friends, and patients on a daily basis. In December, it is time to pay it forward.

Sheri Doniger, D.D.S., practices clinical dentistry in Lincolnwood, IL. She has served as an educator in several dental and dental hygiene programs, has been a consultant for a major dental benefit company, and has written for several dental publications. Most recently, she was the editor of Woman Dentist Journal and Woman Dentist eJournal. You can reach her at [email protected].

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2010

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