Is there a “best time of the day” to see the dentist?

It’s that time again, time to schedule your next dental visit.  If you are like most working people, you probably want to arrange an early morning appointment, or after work. Better yet, an evening or a weekend appointment is really the most convenient so you don’t miss work. In fact, bring the whole family to the dental office in the evening, after supper. That way, the kids won’t miss school.

Let’s think about this a different way…

What time do you think your dentist wakes up in the morning? Gets to work? How many hours does she work? How about a family…does she have one? I can only give you these details about our practice! I wake up at 5:50am each day, which gives me enough time to get myself ready for work and get my children moving for their day (I have three school-aged children). I get to the office at 7:15am and begin seeing patients at 7:30am.  I am a morning person, and my team are also morning people.  This means that by 4:00pm, we are tired. Which is why our day ends at 4:00pm, every day. We then get to spend time with our families, with our hobbies, and we feel time to relax after a physically and mentally challenging day is incredibly important.

I can’t speak for every dentist and dental hygienist, but I can say that my eyes, my hands, and my brain work the best before 4pm, which makes sense given the time I wake up.  Why do I tell you all of this? Because I want you to have the best possible quality dentistry performed, which may mean some inconvenience in your schedule.

Why am I writing about this?

I have been very concerned lately about some local advertising promoting “when your dentist can’t see you, we can!” or “open late nights and weekends for your convenience!” This makes me very uncomfortable because it likens dentistry to your local Walmart store, open 24 hours for your convenience.  A difference between dentistry and Walmart, however, is that the exact same products are available at 3am at Walmart, but it’s not possible to receive the same quality of service (in my opinion) from any practitioner at 9pm or on a weekend when that practitioner is thinking of what is being missed at home. If you could choose when to have a medical emergency, you would do it when the emergency room doctor has just had a great night’s sleep, a decent meal, and some family time. Don’t you think you’d have the best shot at high quality care if all of those criteria were met?

The way some dental offices manage to be open all the time is either by shifts, with different practitioners working at different times, or with one person working 12+ hour days. Many dental offices feel stretched to compete with each other by being open later, or all weekend. I’ve been in practice almost 20 years, and I can tell you I used to work 50-60 hour weeks with nights and Saturdays, when I was fresh out of dental school. I hated it. I didn’t enjoy what I was doing during those hours when all I could think about was what I was missing at home. And if I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t feel like I could offer my best quality of work.

In our office now, we do 95% of our major treatments in the morning, and save simple things for the afternoons. We finish our work days at 4pm; however, when we leave the office we forward our phone to a cell phone that my team and I take turns carrying, so if a patient has a dental emergency we can always be reached. Even on the weekends, and even on holidays. We are happy to provide that level of care, and our patients are both respectful of our personal time and grateful to be able to find us when they need us.

We can’t treat everyone in our office…

We recognize that this schedule doesn’t work for everyone, and we are fine with that. We can’t be everyone’s dentist. But what we can do is create a great relationship with every single one of our patients, and we can spend lots of time upgrading our knowledge to give the best possible care to each one. When you are choosing your dentist, please don’t make the most important factors a convenient location or Saturday hours.  Make it about the care you receive, a dental team you trust to educate you about the best that modern dentistry has to offer and then help you make good dental care decisions.

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!