Navigating the January rush: a dentist’s guide

David Harrop, area clinical lead at Bupa Dental Care, offers up his top tips for sailing through the whirlwind month of January.

As the festive lights dim, dental teams brace themselves for a surge of patients, marking the beginning of January. It’s a time when the aftermath of holiday indulgences collides with New Year’s resolutions, creating a unique set of opportunities and challenges for practices.

During December’s social whirlwind, many patients choose to postpone their dental treatments until the New Year. Factor in the reduced capacity during the Christmas to New Year’s period, with staff taking a well-deserved break, and you have a perfect storm awaiting the early weeks of January.

Dental crowns, veneers, and fillings face unexpected adversaries in the form of coins concealed in Christmas puddings and sugar-loaded toffee, causing teeth to chip and crack.

Increased demand

January also sees people think about prioritising their oral health as part of their overall wellbeing. All in all, this increases demand for urgent and routine appointments for new and existing patients.

With increased workload comes an undeniable toll on the team and amplified stress levels. So, it’s essential to foster a supportive environment within the practice, work as a team, check in on colleagues and patients, and lend an ear.

Looking out for each other and listening, as always, is key during the return-to-work period. Everyone should rally together, recognising that support within the team is fundamental to delivering high standards of patient care.

Create a positive mindset

In addition to supporting one another, individuals should try to establish healthy habits to help themselves manage the stress that comes with a busy workload.

Setting intentions and goals at the start of each day can create a positive mindset, providing a strong basis for managing the challenges that may surface. Here are some of my (year-round) top tips:

  • At the start of the day, run through your list with your nurse, making sure to sort any extra kit needed or check lab work before you begin, to ensure the day runs smoothly. Check that appointment times are correct for the patients you have planned. Consider any time when it may be possible to factor in a tea/comfort break or any times you think it’s likely you may run over and how you might handle this
  • Before you start your day, do a mindfulness check-in with each other as a surgery duo or an entire practice team so you know what ‘battery life’ each other has and can offer support accordingly. Being aware of others’ wellbeing helps improve collaborative working and understanding
  • Top up your water bottles for the day, keep them close to hand, and encourage each other to stay hydrated during a busy day.

These brilliant basics may sound obvious, but they can help de-stress a busy day, and if something unexpected crops up, they make you more prepared to breeze through it.

Alongside prioritising teamwork, creating a supportive environment, and focusing on personal wellbeing, we can continue to deliver exceptional patient care even in the face of January blues.

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