Dental Diaries: The best excuse

2012 10 09 14 00 55 783 Sheri Doniger 2012 70

Today I received this text on my cellphone: "Sheri, I am on a SWAT call. I will not be back to Lincolnwood in time for my appointment."

So far this ranks as one of the best excuses ever for a patient missing his or her appointment. I do have several police officers as patients. Some have had to miss appointments because of shift scheduling and some because of court dates. But this one tops them all.

The immediacy of texting is great, but had I not looked at my cellphone (which is in my office and normally not accessible during my patient day), I would not have known that this particular patient was not going to show up for his appointment. We would have worried that something happened (because this patient is very punctual). Luckily, this was at the end of the day, so I did check.

Over the years, we certainly have heard many an excuse for why patients are unable to make their appointments. Everything from "The power is out and I can't get my car out of the garage" to "I have to go out of town." All of them rational and reasonable -- to the patient.

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.
Sheri B. Doniger, DDS.

There are certainly reasons for patients to miss their appointments, such as traffic, weather, last-minute office meetings, or a sick family member. At least they call or contact our office, via whatever method they see fit.

But there are also patients who are so terrified they would rather pay a failed appointment fee than appear for treatment. They may not have an excuse or even call. They just don't show up.

With the onslaught of confirming via text message and patients knowing our mobile numbers, some feel that a text to our personal cellphone is the most expedient manner to reach us. The problem is that I never carry my cellphone on my person while performing dentistry. While focusing on the patient in the treatment chair, I don't need distractions. It's bad enough when the melodious tones arise from our patient's mobile devices.

But when I receive a text like this, it gives me pause. Life does happen outside of our dental offices that affects our patients. I learned later that the SWAT call ended successfully. Good for that team. Bad for my schedule? Not so much. We had the opportunity to take pause and enjoy another glorious day in Chicago.

Sheri Suggests: DentalEZ ErgoSure dental stools

DentalEZ ErgoSure stool

While we are working, we sometimes forget the need to maintain perfect posture and remember time and motion mechanics. The DentalEZ ErgoSure dental stools offer many different methods of adaptability for different operator positions.

For example, the stools have arm rests and mechanisms that will comfortably seat the operator and help keep class 4 (arm and shoulder) and class 5 (twisting the body) motions to a minimum. In addition, the seats are adjustable for both tilt and height, and the lumbar area also allows one-handed adjustments to fit different heights.

Other features include "nonslip skin-foam technology" that is easy to disinfect and repels fluid, optional adjustable elbow supports for the operator stool, and an optional back rest for the assistant's stool.

"The operator's and assistant's stools are the most used equipment in the dental office, and the design of the stool can have a serious effect on their health," said Aggie Pennington, senior equipment product manager for DentalEZ. "Since the best ergonomic positions vary by person, DentalEZ created the ErgoSure stool line to allow personal adjustments to the height, seat tilt, and placement of the lumbar support."

Sheri B. Doniger, DDS, 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 benefits 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

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.

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