At some time, you may need to find a new dentist. Perhaps you have changed jobs or relocated to a new place. Or you are not satisfied with your current dental service provider. Choosing a dentist for you and your family is an important decision that you cannot ignore. Remember, they will be handling one of your most valuable assets – your oral health. That’s why you should choose your dentist wisely.
There are many dentists out there, and choosing the right one can be a daunting task. The following guide will help you navigate through the process so you can choose the best dentist near you.
Start With the Basics
The first step to take when finding a dentist is to evaluate your personal needs. Why do you need a dentist? What kind of dentist do you need? Next is to search for a professional who suits your needs. Here are some of the things to do in the initial stages of finding a dentist:
Determine the type of dentist you need
Dental experts are not equal. For instance, you should see a general family dentist for your routine check-ups, extractions, occasional filling, and cleaning. But, for severe dental complications, you might need a specialist. There are seven main types of dental specialists:
General dentist: They offer general dental care, including routine dental exams, teeth cleaning, and filling. They will refer you to other types of dentists in case you need advanced treatment.
A pediatric dentist or pedodontist: They are specialists in dental care for children and teenagers.
Endodontist: They are specialized in performing root canal procedures to treat decay at the tooth’s nerve.
Periodontist: They are qualified to treat problems arising from progressive gum disease or periodontal disease.
Orthodontist: They specialize in correcting jaw and teeth misalignments using braces, retainers, wires, and other orthodontic constructions.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons: They are trained to perform invasive procedures such as removing impacted wisdom teeth, surgical correction of jaws, cleft lip and palate surgeries, and biopsies.
Prosthodontist: They are responsible for replacing missing, decayed, or damaged teeth with oral prostheses.
Ask for recommendations
Now that you are aware of the type of dentist you need, the next step is to begin searching for them. Start by asking for recommendations. If you are moving to a new place, you may ask your previous dentist for a few dentists’ suggestions in your new residence. You might also want to request your primary physician for referrals.
Another good place to get recommendations is the American Dental Association (ADA) website or your local dental society. They should provide you with a list of names of the dental specialties you need. Also, get suggestions from your trusted family members, friends, and colleagues.
Accessibility and working hours
It’s advisable to work with a dentist who is close to your home or workplace. This will make the process of scheduling appointments much more effortless. It also means getting quick help during dental emergencies. Check their working hours – do they offer early morning or evening appointments? Do they open during weekends and public holidays? Convenient working hours make it easy for you to comply with your regular appointments.
Check patient reviews and testimonials
Reading patient reviews is another good criterion for sorting the referrals you’ve gotten. Reviews give you an insight into how a dentist operates their clinic. This can be in relation to staff friendliness, office environment, and waiting time.
Additionally, reviews reflect the interactions of patients with the dentist. Thus, they will help you determine the personal attributes of the dentist. Pay attention to the recurring themes in the reviews. These will help you to decide whether or not the dentist is suitable for you.
Visit the Office and Interview the Dentist
The first section of the guide helps you to narrow down your options to three or four candidates. In the following section, you will schedule appointments to interview the candidates. By the end of it, you should identify the best dentist for you and your family.
Some of the essential questions to ask the dentist or their representative during the interview include:
Are you licensed?
Licensing is mandatory for every dentist. A license indicates that the dentist has completed their degree program in an accredited institution and passed the regional and state examinations. If the dentist is a specialist, they should have a license in the dental specialty. Ask to see the license.
Which insurance covers do you accept?
Dental services can be costly, more so the complicated and advanced treatments. It is, therefore, important that you partner with a dentist who accepts your insurance cover. By doing this, you will get maximum benefits from your insurance and spend little out-of-pocket cash.
Which dental techniques and equipment do you use?
Ensure that your dentist offers treatment options that address your needs. Scrutinize the office to see if they have state-of-the-art equipment in treating your condition. Also, ask about their proficiency in dental techniques such as anesthesia. Do they seem to be well-versed with the latest advancements in dental care?
Are you registered with professional associations like the American Dental Association (ADA)?
Dentists don’t need to be registered with ADA. However, having an ADA dentist is a plus. It reassures you that they are compliant with the code of professional conduct. The ADA code requires dentists to respect a patient’s needs and wants, provide high-quality treatment, offer unbiased care, and be truthful.
Do you have an in-house X-ray and dental lab?
Having a dentist with an on-site lab saves you time and money. It means you won’t have to travel to remote labs to get tested since your dentist has the necessary diagnostic equipment. Besides that, you will have your veneers and crowns constructed on the same day and in the same place.
Dental X-rays are essential diagnostic tools for dentists. They help to identify issues that are not noticeable with visual exams. By having a dentist with an X-ray machine, your dental problems will be diagnosed accurately and treated proactively rather than reactively.
What are the charges for non-insured patients?
You should understand the payment plan and charges for your dental sessions if you are not covered by insurance. Ask about the cost of the dental procedure you want. Is it within your budget? Compare the price with those of the other candidates and choose the one that best favors your pocket.
Consider the Qualities of the Dentist
Before you make your final decision, you need to consider the personality traits of the dentist. It is pointless to have a dentist with the right credentials and state-of-the-art equipment but lacks interpersonal skills. A good professional is all-rounded. So, while talking to the dentist, pay attention to the following attributes.
Communication skills: Essentially, your dentist should educate you on diagnosis, treatment, and preventative care. As such, they ought to have excellent communication skills. Consider how they are articulating technical information; is it understandable?
Organizational skills: A dental clinic should be maintained hygienically for apparent reasons. Look out for red flags that point out to poor hygiene. For instance, do they provide sanitization points for patients? Also, consider their organizational skills, including record keeping and the general office setup.
Detail-oriented: Generally, dental procedures require attention to detail. This is because the mouth is so intricate and tiny that a slight mistake can lead to enormous consequences. Therefore, your dentist needs to thoroughly attentive to details such as color, shape, and space of teeth.
Problem-solving skills: Dental problems are many and diverse. Therefore, a good dentist must have strong problem-solving skills. This helps them to develop suitable treatment approaches for complicated dental issues. With an artistic and creative dentist, you will be guaranteed improved oral health and aesthetics.
Patience and compassion: A visit to the dentist causes jitters in many people. That is why a good dentist should know how to calm their patients down. Additionally, they should be compassionate since dental problems may affect an individual’s life. Also, don’t forget that some people and most children fear a dental procedure, so the dentist needs to be patient.
Physical stamina: Dental work is physically engaging. In most procedures, the dentist is required to bend for long periods. As such, they need to be physically fit so they can be up for the task. Ideally, they should have a support team to assist during intense procedures.
Trustworthiness: One of the most fundamental qualities of a dentist is honesty. A good dentist should demonstrate uniformity and transparency in their treatment costs. In other words, they should have standard prices for each of the dental procedures. You shouldn’t be overcharged now that you are a new patient. They should also be honest about your treatment plan and be willing to share it with you openly.
Your oral health is crucial, and you need not gamble with it. This means choosing your dentist meticulously. And it is okay to spend days or weeks searching for the best dentist so long as you reach your goal. This guide will get you on the right track in finding a good dentist.