7 Tips for Choosing a Dentist

picking the right dentist is important

Choosing a dentist is like pulling teeth. It can seem daunting, confusing and the final decision has a huge impact on you and your family’s health. It’s also difficult to evaluate all of your specific needs and find a dentist to match your requirements.

It’s important to take your time and choose wisely. You don’t want to be faced with an extortionate dental bill or crippling toothache and nowhere to go. Here are our seven top tips when choosing a dentist to help you identify the best dental professional for you:

1. Get Some Recommendations

Ask your family, friends and colleagues which dentist they would recommend to you. It’s a great starting point as they will have a real level of insight into a dentist, which goes beyond the surgery’s glossy brochures.

For example, how long will you have to wait for an appointment? Are they often running late? How well does the dentist explain procedures and answer patient questions?

If you’re moving to a new area, then ask your current dentist for a recommendation, or ask your local doctor’s surgery or pharmacy. If your current dentist or physician knows someone at the suggested surgery – even better. You can also contact your local or state dental association, your dental insurance company or a dental hospital to help find a dentist in your area.

2. Check Out The Location and Other Amenities

Another great starting point as you try to find a dentist is to check out the surgery’s location. Figure out whether you would prefer a dentist that’s closer to your place of work or your home. How accessible is the surgery? Do you need parking facilities? Would it be useful if your surgery is near other amenities?

3. What Will It Cost You?

Find out the dentists’ basic rates and payment options. For example, how does the surgery deal with late payments? Are fees settled upfront and before a procedure is carried out? You could also ask the dentist to provide information on the cost of basic procedures, such as filling a cavity or conducting a basic oral examination.

Bear in mind that the saying “you get what you pay for” is very true for dental work. A dentist has high overheads of around 60%, so there are few discount options, unless they cut corners in other areas.You could end up paying a lot more in the long term for a cheap dental procedure in the short term. Gauge a dentist’s worth not just from their fees, but how long they have been in business and the reputation they have built in that timeframe.

Your dental health plan could also dictate which dentists you can be treated at. For example, dental HMOs only let you use dentists in their network. Double check that the dentist you have in mind will accept your dental insurance. And ask your insurance company if there is an “out of network option” so you can widen your search to find a dentist.

4. What Services Does This Dentist Practice Offer?

This comes down to what you want your dentist to do for you. You may want a cosmetic dentist to improve the appearance of your teeth. Or you may want a family dentist to just cover the general oral needs of you and your family. If you want a specialist dentist, then choosing a dentist may come down to just a handful of options.

You may also want to find out more specific information. For example, what type of anesthesia can the the dentist administer to you during dental treatment?

5. What Availability Do They Offer?

When will you want to see the dentist? Look into the dentist’s opening times and see if it matches your needs if, for example, you work unsociable hours or you want to take your children to the dentist without taking them out of school.

It’s important to find out if the dentist has an out of hours clinic if you do have a dental emergency. For example, do they offer evening hours and are they available on weekends?

6. Research Qualifications and Ongoing Learning

The jargon surrounding the dentistry profession can seem confusing. For example, your dentist’s name may end with the “DDS” (Doctor of Dental Surgery) acronym, or “DMD” (Doctor of Dental Medicine). But the difference is just semantics. Both dentists will have taken the same courses and offer the same level of expertise.

Check that the dentist has the necessary qualifications and find out more about their clinical experience and training, more specifically surrounding any of the procedures you know you may require. Your local dental society or your insurance provider can also provide information on a dentist’s qualifications.

It’s also important to ensure your dentist undergoes continuous training to keep them up to date with the latest procedures. Ask them how often they attend conferences and continuing education workshops or if they attend study groups with other dental professionals, for example.

7. Pop In

Once you have a dentist in mind, it’s important to make a consultation appointment to see if you feel comfortable with that specific person and surgery. It’s your opportunity to ask plenty of questions and assess the cleanliness and professionalism of the surgery.

One quick tip from a practicing dentist is to see if your dentist is wearing surgical telescopes (known as loupes). Those dentists that do not wear these magnifying headwear will not be able to see exactly what’s going on in your mouth and should be avoided. Also, you could ask the surgery if you can interview their dentists and staff – the reaction alone will give you an indication of their attitude towards customer enquiries!

The most important tip when choosing a dentist is to follow your instinct. If you feel uncomfortable with the way you are treated, the information you are given or how your questions are answered, then don’t step foot into that surgery again.

You should always leave your dentist’s surgery smiling!

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