Not all dentists are the same. I'm sure I'm not telling you anything new. Most of you have been to more than one dentist in your life. Do you remember an experience that was not so great? It probably made you seek a better dentist.
Sometimes you stick with the same dentist you had as a child, teen, or young adult. But sometimes you move to a new town and have to find a new dentist.
Here are some issues to consider and questions to ask when evaluating a new dentist.
- What are the office hours? Are they convenient for your schedule?
- Is the office easy to get to from work or home?
- Where was the dentist educated and trained?
- What's the dentist's approach to preventive dentistry?
- How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
- Does the dentist use the latest dental technology, for increased effectiveness and comfort?
- Does the dentist explain procedures and options in a down to earth manner that you understand?
- Does the dentist welcome your questions?
- Does the dentist seem like a happy, self-confident person who loves her or his profession?
- Does the dentist seem like a genuinely nice person -- or do they seem cold?
- What type of anesthesia and pain relief is the dentist certified to administer?
- What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dental offices will make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service, if they're unable to tend to your emergency.)
- Is information provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled?
- Are the pros and cons of each dental work option fully explained to you?
- In comparison shopping, be sure to ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, an oral exam and cleaning, and filling a cavity.
- Does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?
- Does the office seem tidy, cheerful, clean?
- Do any of your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers recommend this dentist based on actual experience?
- Does the dentist specialize in what you need (children, people with anxiety, elderly, disabled patients)?
- What is the dentist's office policy on missed appointments? How much notice do you have to give when canceling an appointment, to avoid a charge?