Whether you’re moving to a new community, aren’t satisfied with your current dental care or are looking for expanded dental services, there will come a time when you need to find a new dentist. Make sure you choose the one that’s right for you.
With specialization, advanced training, new technologies and more, these days, no two dentists are alike. The differences can have a profound impact on your oral health.
So, how do you go about finding the right dentist? The days of opening up the phone book and perusing the Yellow Pages are over. (And thank goodness for that!) Today there are a variety of steps you can take to make sure you choose the best dentist for you.
The First Steps to Take
It seems obvious, but it really is the best way to find out about dentists in your community: talk to friends, family and co-workers. Ask them why they chose their dentist and why they like them. Ask about the care and services available, the team, hours, fees, etc. Ask for their recommendations.
Ask your family doctor. He or she will probably know a dentist that meets your requirements for care (i.e. family dentistry, orthodontics, restorative dentistry, prosthodontics, etc.) and is a good match for your personality.
If you’re moving to a new community, ask your current dentist for a recommendation, or contact the local and state dental societies.
I suggest calling or visiting more than one dentist before selecting one you feel you can build a good long-term relationship with.
What Should You Look for When Choosing a Dentist?
When you choose a dentist, you’re entering into a long-term, health-based relationship; you should be very comfortable with the person you choose. But that’s not all. His or her practice, services, team, personality, and more should meet your expectations and needs. To get all the pertinent information you need, ask the following questions:
- What are the office hours? Are they convenient for your schedule?
- Is the office conveniently located to your work or home?
- Where was the dentist educated and trained?
- What’s the dentist’s approach to preventive care? (Is it a simple cleaning and exam, or is it comprehensive, including x-rays, oral cancer screening, fluoride treatments – even for adults, periodontal screening, etc.).
- How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
- What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer?
- Does he or she handle emergency care? What about outside of office hours?
- Are fees and payment plans presented before treatment is scheduled?
- Does the practice offer varied financial options or extended payment plans?
If cost is your primary concern, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples; remember, not all dentists are created equal. For example, if you’re inquiring about the cost to fill a cavity, ask about the approach to restoring cavities and about the materials used. Does the dentist use silver-mercury amalgam, composite resin or porcelain?The difference in the cost could mean a difference in quality, strength and longevity of the restoration.
When you visit the dentist office, take note of the following:
- Does the office appear to be clean, neat, and orderly? Do all surfaces and equipment in the treatment room appear clean?
- Is the dental staff helpful and willing to answer your questions?
- Do you feel as though the dentist and team are giving you the time you deserve? Or are you feeling rushed?
- Do you observe the dentist and staff wearing gloves and other protective gear during actual patient treatment?
These days, most dentists have websites, and you can find the answers to most of these questions right there. Still, before you choose a dentist, even if the website covers everything you’re looking for, make sure you meet him. The chair-side manner and personality of your dentist can make or break your relationship. Find a dentist that really makes you feel at ease, confident in the care and completely comfortable.