Ten Tips for Choosing a Dentist

| July 16, 2012

smiling female dentistDon’t wait until you’re screaming in pain to start looking for a dentist. Before a problem develops, check DexKnows local dentist listings and keep the following in mind during your search.

Ask around

The American Dental Association suggests asking around to find the right dentist. Seek advice from family, friends, neighbors or coworkers. Check with your family physician or local pharmacist for possible recommendations. Contact your state dental society.

Check out qualifications

Dentists must graduate from an accredited dental school with either a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine degree in order to be licensed. They must also pass written and practical exams. Check out your dentist’s qualifications and whether the dentist belongs to any specific professional organizations.

Inquire about specialties

Dentists may also have specific specialties such as pediatric dentistry, oral surgery, periodontics and restorative treatments such as crowns and dentures. These specialties require additional training above what’s required to become a general dentist. Determine your needs and make sure to find a dentist whose specialties fit any special needs you have.

General expectations

Make sure the dental office or clinic is clean and orderly and the staff is courteous. A dentist should stress preventive care such as routine cleanings, X-rays and gum exams. Dentists and dental hygienists should also wear gloves and use other preventive measures during cleanings and treatments.

Consider hours and location

Some dentists may stick to a traditional schedule, while others may offer extended hours or are open on weekends. Find a dentist whose schedule fits your own. Check on availability for emergencies that happen outside of office hours. Also, consider the location of the dental office. Is the dentist close enough or conveniently located?

Be in the know

Seek a dentist willing to explain procedures or techniques. Don’t be afraid to ask questions such as whether the dentist stays up-to-date on procedures and new technologies. Your relationship with your dentist may be a lengthy one, depending on the work you need done. Ask anything you think appropriate in order to make sure the dentist is a good fit.

Understand the cost

Make sure you know how much each procedure will cost, especially if comparison shopping. If you have dental insurance, ask how much is covered by the insurance and what you will end up paying out of your own pocket. This may determine which treatment to seek. If you do not have insurance, check to see if the dentist offers a discount or is willing to work out a payment plan.

Calm your fears

The American Dental Association advises people to ask what types of anesthesia dentists are certified to administer. Is there something available that will help you relax during the treatment? Make sure to notify the dentist if you usually experience a severe gag reflex during dental work. Keep these tips in mind and happy hunting as you check out the Dex pages for your new dentist.

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Category: Dentists, Health & Fitness

About the Author ()

Central Ohio journalist with 15 years experience at daily newspapers. Freelance writer and amateur photographer. Storytellers are my heroes, poets my idols and photographers my looking glass.