When you’re searching for a great dentist, you’re doing much more than looking for somebody with the right qualifications. You’re also seeking a professional with whom you have rapport and can put you at ease. Most importantly, you’re looking for someone you trust. After all, you’re vulnerable when you’re in the dentist’s chair. You want somebody who can assuage your concerns and improve your oral health.
But how do you go about this process? How can you find the best dentist in your area? Here’s what to do:
Establish The Basics
While it would be nice to have a choice of dentists all over the world, you need to be realistic. If you live in the Midwest, it doesn’t make sense to choose a dentist operating on the East Coast.
You also want a dentist who works around your schedule. If you have a busy career and need to serve clients 9 am to 5 pm on weekdays, you need a dental clinic that offers evening and weekend appointments. Taking time out of work to see your practitioner during regular office hours might not be an option for you.
You also want a dentist that is a member of the ADA (American Dental Association). Membership ensures that they have the proper qualifications to carry out their roles.
Lastly, you need a dentist who can communicate with you about the treatment. Ideally, your dentist should offer interpreter services or speak a language you understand fluently.
Summarizing, you should choose a dentist who:
-Operates in your local area
-Offers appointment slots at times that are convenient for you
-Is a member of the ADA
-Can communicate with you about your treatment needs in a way you understand
Start Your Search
Once you’ve thrashed out the basics, you have the tools you need to launch your search. Any dentists you canvas should meet the minimum requirements outlined above.
When it comes to finding a great dentist, you have multiple search options. A lot of dentists will advertise their services in local papers and even on the radio. But as a savvy patient, you should seek less biased channels.
Trusted friends or family: Often others in your immediate social circle can provide honest feedback about the quality of the services received. They can tell you about the experiences that they had with a particular dentist and whether their style will match your personality and expectations.
Local health department: Sometimes, the local health department can recommend specific dental practices if you are having trouble self-financing.
Local dental societies: Quality dental practices are almost always members of local dental societies, industry bodies that keep standards high. Any recommendations from these organizations indicate a clinic that is respected by its peers.
The ADA’s Find A Dentist tool: The American Dental Association makes it simple to create a shortlist of ADA-registered and approved practices in your area.
The methods above are a great way to whittle down your shortlist to, say, half a dozen candidates. But that’s as far as they will take you. The next step is to go to the practices yourself and assess whether they offer the quality of service you want.
Call Or Visit
Dentists love entertaining new patients and are keen to sign up for their appointments. For that reason, many practices offer introductory consultations that give you a chance to get to know your dentist and the rest of the team. The dentist might come highly recommended, but it is their ability to meet your specific needs that matters the most.
Start by considering the rapport you develop with the dentist. How this goes depends on your personal characteristics, but most people are looking for a warm and competent professional who they can trust.
As you talk to the dentist, you should get a gut feeling as to whether you feel at ease with them or not. Don’t just go with the first professional you encounter. Sample several so that you can compare and contrast their chairside manner.
During each preliminary consultation, ask the dentist questions. Here are some examples of the type of things you might want to ask:
Which dental problems do you specialize in treating?
Remember, while all dentists have to go to general dental school, many have specialist qualifications in areas like periodontics (which deals with gum problems) or orthodontics (which specializes in aligning teeth and making them less crooked). Certain specialisms might be more relevant given your oral health needs.
What is your policy on dental emergencies?
Regular dental appointments are essential for maintaining oral health. But sometimes, emergencies can crop up out of the blue. And when that happens, you need assistance fast.
Check with your dentist about their emergency appointment policy. Most practices should be able to schedule an appointment for problems like gum infections, cracked teeth, and trauma on the same day or the next.
Do you support my benefit plan?
If you’re on a dental benefit plan (either privately, through the state, or an employer), then it is worth checking whether the dental practice supports it.
How will you help me manage my dental anxiety?
A lot of patients experience anxiety when going to the dentist. It’s important to find out, therefore, how the practice deals with these cases, and whether it offers sedation dentistry to help you relax. Some clinics do, while others will refer you.
How do you manage my data?
Lastly, you might want to ask how they manage your personal medical history. Do they keep it on file? Will it become a permanent medical record?
Schedule An Appointment
If you’re looking for a great dentist, Dr. Elena C. Puig and the Dynamic Smile Design team are here to help. We offer a wide variety of dental services in a friendly and reassuring environment.
Schedule an appointment with us and meet the team today.