Choosing The Right Dentist for You
When it comes to choosing the right dentist it is best not to rush into the matter at hand. Instead, take your time vetting each and every dental practitioner. The key to beginning this process is to do so prior to any emergency dental situation because there are several factors to consider when choosing your dentist that will take time and research. Start your search by proximity of dental office locations nearest you as well as each offices hours of availability. You want to make sure the dentists you consider will be able to fit into your busy schedule. Thus, it is best to choose a dentist close to your home or work. This ensures that you will be able to make each and every scheduled visit on time and without an overt amount of effort. Additionally, it is in your best interest to double check office hours to ensure you will be able to make an appointment regardless of days and times the dentist is available.
Naturally, cost is another important factor to consider when picking a new dentist. There are a few things you will need to ask yourself when researching each practitioner; Will this dentist accept my insurance? If, not will this dentist work with me on a payment plan or accept multiple forms of payment i.e. personal checks or credit cards? Can this dentist provide specialist referrals if required by my insurance? Keep in mind that costs and prices will vary by dentist. If possible, prior to scheduling any appointments try to obtain estimates of what each dental practitioner may charge for everyday procedures like deep cleanings, fillings, and root canals. It is good to know the routine prices even if you have dental insurance as you may have to cover part of the therapy costs yourself.
Another factor to consider when choosing the dentist that best fits your proximity and price range is personality compatibility. Visiting the dentist can be scary, so it is best to choose a dentist that you feel personally comfortable with. A couple of questions to ask yourself are; Do you feel heard and understood when you express your concerns to this dentist? Are you allowed to ask this dentist questions and thoroughly explain your symptoms? Are you comfortable expressing your fears and anxieties to this particular dental practitioner? Do not hesitate to call each office directly to inquire about a dentist's training, policies, or prices. If you feel that the staff seems uncomfortable discussing these topics with you or answering any questions you may have, it may be time to consider choosing a different dentist. Your local dental society and/or insurance carrier should also contain information about each dentists qualifications and experience. To verify your dentist's licensing visit your state dental boards website where they will post all of your dentists licenses and certifications. Additionally, this website will address whether or not any disciplinary actions or lawsuits have been filed against said dentist.
It is extremely vital that you inquire about each dentist's emergency care policy! If you have a dental emergency it is best to know how to contact your dentist or how to handle the situation prior to a catastrophic event occuring. Ask each office the following questions; Will they open late at night or on a weekend in the case of an emergency? Will you be able to directly contact your dentist or a suitable substitute during the case of an emergency by either phone or pager? The office should be able to give you upfront answers as to how to handle a dental emergency. A dentist should never refer you to a hospital ER.
With all of these factors in mind, follow the options listed below to locate dentists to evaluate:
Option #1 Ask Family & Friends for Recommendations
Your friends and family are an amazing resource to utilize as they will have first hand experience with the dental practitioner and staff they either do or do not refer to you. Make sure to ask them about waitroom time, how well the dentist discusses treatment options, comfortability when asking questions, the office emergency policy, appointment availability, and payment options.
Option #2 Ask Your Primary Physician for Recommendations
Whether you dislike your family and friends recommendations or simply don't have anyone to ask, another great place to obtain a dental recommendation is from your primary physician. They most likely will know of a few great options that they have either personally visited or that their faithful client base has recommended.
Option #3 Ask Your Current Dentist for Recommendations
Now this step only works if you are relocating! Otherwise your dentist may be quite offended if you ask him or her for a dental recommendation because you are unhappy with his or her services. However, in the case of relocating it is perfectly acceptable to ask your current dentist for recommendations of high quality, reliable dentists near the new home you are moving to.
Option #4 Call Your Insurance Company
Your insurance company should be happy to provide a list of dentists in your area who are compatible with the companies dental coverage. The best part about finding a dentist through your insurance is that dental care will cost much lower as the dental practitioner will most likely be in-network with your insurance plan.
Option #5 Call Your State's Dental Association
Each and every state hosts their own dental association that will be able to provide you will a list of dentists who are apart of the ADA (American Dental Association) membership. Keep in mind that this membership is voluntary and that the majority of dentists are members. An ADA membership does not automatically equal a higher quality of care and you should still vet these recommended dentist thoroughly.
Option #6 Call Your Local Dental University
Your local dental university should also prove to be another great resource. Not only do dental universities readily take new clients, they welcome them with open arms and excellent dental care. Plus, the costs of dental care will be much lower at these dental universities than any private practice. Your dental care at these universities will be provided by dental students and residents who are completing advanced training so rest assured that your smile will be in good hands. Each procedure is supervised by a dental professional and often times are accompanied by brand new, state of the art dental care.
Option #7 Check Your Local Advertisements & Yellow Pages
If all else fails, be sure to check out your local ads and yellow pages for recommended dentists. While this option may not be 100% reliable, it is still better than taking a shot in the dark. Just be sure to vet these dentists the same way, if not further, than you would any other dental practitioner.