Seven Steps to Choosing a Dentist
For the oral health of you and your family, choosing a dentist should be a combination of objective review of the dentists’ qualification and a subjective decision concerning your personal comfort. Here is a list of seven steps that consider both criteria:
1. Determine what kind of dentist you need. Even if you want a specialist, family dentists certified in the dental procedure you need is the first step to getting a referral to a specialist. Understanding what these specialties are will help you understand which dentist is right for you.
DM general family dentistry medicine (DDM) to treat your entire family
DDS for dental medicine and dental surgery
Pedodontists, also known as a pediatric dentist, specializing in children’s dentistry
Endodontists specialize in root canal surgery
Prosthodontics specializes in restorative procedures like bridgework or dentures.
Orthodontists are bite specialists and prescribe dental braces
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons performs tooth extraction and oral surgery
Periodontists specialize in gum disease treatment
Cosmetic dentistry is more of a marketing term that denotes dentists who emphasize improving your smile through veneers, whitening, etc.
TMJ treatment is for those suffering from acute or chronic inflammation of the temporomandibular joint.
2. Check your dental insurance to know which dentists are in your network and how much your insurance will pay for the procedure you are likely to be using. Regardless of whether you have insurance or not, find out what kind of payment the dentist expects upfront and what kind of payment plans they offer to allow you to pay such as by credit card, financing, payment plan, etc.
3. Ask for recommendations from your friends and family, your former dentist if you have moved, your trusted health care professionals like your family doctor, pharmacist or pediatrician. Check to see if there are any online reviews for dentists in your area on Angies’ list, the American Dental Association, www.dma.org or some other type of local forum. Post a question on your local social network and ask for recommendations.
4. Weigh the pros and cons of picking the most experienced dentist versus picking the ones trained in new technology. Research success rates of new technologies in the areas you are interested in like laser treatments for gum disease, dental implants versus dentures. Strike a healthy median between experience and new procedures; find the newest technology from the most experienced dentist you can find at a price you can afford or can arrange to pay.
5. Check to see how accommodating the dentists’ hours are to your schedule. Find out how respectful they are they of your time when scheduling appointments and what their policy is for missed appointments. Inquire about the availability and the fees for after-hours emergency care. Take into consideration how convenient the dentists’ office is to your home or work.
6. Shop around and compare prices for procedures you will likely need. Visit the offices before making an appointment to ask questions about the procedures, costs, and payment arrangements. Ask about the availability of services of importance to you like sedation during dental procedures Note the demeanor of the office personnel and decide if you think they are helpful or not. It does not always follow that the dentist’s personality will follow the staff’s but it can be an indicator and will help determine if you feel comfortable in your new dentist’s offices.
7. Call or visit more than one dentist before selecting the one you will be using long term. Ask about preventative dentistry, different options for solving your dentistry needs and make sure you feel like you are control of making the decisions and the dentist is not pressuring you into a procedure. Does your dentist scold you or empathize with you. Are you comfortable discussing your oral history with the dentist? Are you comfortable trusting this person with yours and your family’s oral health?
Finding the best dentist at the best price that you will enjoy going to see can take a little bit of time to accomplish. However, doing your homework ahead of time will help make the process more successful.