When it comes to selecting a new dentist there are a number of things to be considered. Chief among these considerations is whether you are looking for a general dentist for ongoing care, maintenance and checkups, or whether you are looking for a dental specialist equipped to provide a specific treatment (be it restorative or cosmetic). Beyond this consideration, there are a variety of other factors to consider when it comes to selecting a dentist.

Here are eight things to consider when choosing a dentist:

1) Training

Research the extent of training and clinical experience that a prospective dentist has, particularly with regard to specialty procedures.

For example, not all dentists are trained in performing the full array of cosmetic or restorative procedures and may in fact refer certain cases to colleagues. A referral may be a less convenient option.

2) Treatments Offered

Not all dentists or practices offer the same services. If you are looking for a specific treatment or product brand, it is imperative that you inquire as to whether a given practice caters to it.

For example, you may have seen advertising for Invisalign and are interested in that procedure. Although your dentist may offer an invisible braces solution similar in function and quality to Invisalign, he/she may not be certified to provide Invisalign specifically. If this is important to you then it’s something you should consider during your search.

3) Referrals

General dentists may refer complex restorative or cosmetic cases to colleagues if they are not equipped to provide certain treatments. If you are not concerned with a scenario in which you are referred to another dentist for treatment, you should inquire as to the specifics of the referral process.

4) Emergency Care

Dental emergencies happen. Oral trauma and damaged restorations can strike at any time. Therefore it’s important to know what sort of recourse your dentist or dental practice offers in the case of such emergencies. For example, some practices offer flexible after hours and weekend appointments, whereas other practices may have limited flexibility.

5) Dental Technologies

Is your dentist investing in new technologies to help improve the patient experience and enhance the treatment process? Some dentists are hesitant to invest time and money into purchasing new equipment such as dental lasers, CAD/CAM machines, etc. Although these technologies will not necessarily improve treatment outcome, they can have an impact on aspects of the treatment experience such as the amount of chair time or number of visits required for a given procedure.

Keep in mind that a practice offering cutting-edge technologies may charge more than a practice offering more traditional treatment options.

6) Patient Comforts

Are you an anxious dental patient? You’re not alone. Dental anxiety is common to the point that many practices offer a variety of services catered towards patient comfort. Pre medication and nitrous oxide are fairly obvious examples, but some practices go so far as to offer headphones, massage, aromatherapy and more to help put patients at ease.

Ask about what sort of patient comforts the practice offers during your initial consultation.

7) Before and Afters

Most dentists keep a gallery of past patients that includes pictures of their teeth before and after treatment. This can be extremely helpful when evaluating the quality of work you can expect with a dentist. If your needs are cosmetic, it can be even more helpful when evaluating all your cosmetic options, including teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, etc.

8) Cost

The cost of dental care can fluctuate significantly from person to person and case to case, based on a variety of factors.

For example, a dentist in Beverly Hills may charge 25 percent more for the same treatment performed in outlying areas such as Thousand Oaks. Why? It may cost a practice significantly more to operate in an area like Beverly Hills, and those costs are shared by the patient. Before selecting a given dentist or dental practice, you would be wise to get estimates.


Article and resources provided by YourDentistryGuide.com

Want more factors to consider? Keep reading!

What To Look for in a Dentist
Take your time choosing a dentist; don’t wait for an emergency! There are several things to consider when looking for a dentist.

Location and office hours– Choose a dentist close to home or work. This will make it easier to schedule visits and to arrive on time. Also, make sure that the dental office is open on the days and at the times when you are able to schedule an appointment.

Cost–Does the dentist accept your insurance? Does the dentist offer multiple payment options (credit cards, personal checks, payment plans)? If your insurance plan requires referrals to specialists, can this dentist provide them?

Also, be aware that costs vary by practice. If you can, get estimates of what your dentist might charge for common procedures such as fillings, crowns or root canal therapy. Even if you have dental insurance, you may be paying part of the costs yourself.

Personal comfort–One of the most important things to consider when you choose a dentist is whether you feel comfortable with that person. Are you able to explain symptoms and ask questions? Do you feel like the dentist hears and understands your concerns? Would you feel comfortable asking for pain medicine, expressing your fear or anxiety, or asking questions about a procedure?

Professional qualifications–The dentist’s office should be able to tell you about the dentist’s training. The office also should have policies on infection control. If the staff seems uncomfortable answering your questions, or you are uncomfortable with their answers, consider finding another dentist. You can also obtain information about a dentist’s qualifications from the local dental society or your insurance carrier. Most organizations of specialty dentists also list their members and qualifications.

Emergency care–Find out what happens if you have an emergency, either during normal office hours, or at night or on a weekend. A dentist should not refer you to a hospital emergency room. You should be able to contact your dentist (or a suitable substitute) at any time by calling an answering service, cell phone or pager.

State licensing boards–Most state dental boards have a website where you can verify if your dentist is licensed. The website also should tell you whether there have been any disciplinary actions taken against him or her.

Article and resources provided by Colgate.com

13 Responses
  1. I agree that not all dentists will offer the same practices or services. If you need a specific procedure done, you’ll have to research and make sure the dentist actually will be able to do it. I’m sure there are some instances when you would need to go to an oral surgeon instead.

  2. I like that this article mentions how it’s important to find a general dentist that has the right equipment for the treatment you need. Checking their website could help you learn more about the services they offer so that you can determine if they’re able to provide the procedure you require. It could also help to visit their office in order to meet them and their staff as well as see the equipment they use to ensure it will work for the dental services you want.

  3. Thanks for mentioning how a dentist should offer special treatments such as braces. I also like how you said that they should be certified as well. My husband and I are looking for a dentist that can give our daughter braces.

  4. I’ve been looking for some general dentists for my family. I think that finding patient reviews for a general dentist would be nice. I’m going to have to look for a good general dentist and see what we can find!

  5. I’d like to thank you for your explanation about getting a dentist. If you were to ask me, I’d prefer the patient comfort. I guess a good dentist will make you feel that everything is just fine!

  6. I like how you suggested finding a dentist that is close to your home, as doing so will make it easier to visit the dentist. My little brother has chronic dry mouth, so we’ve been looking for a dentist to help him. I’ll share these tips with him, so he can find the best dentist for his needs.

  7. My wife and I just moved to a new area, so we are looking for a dentist to start visiting in town. I like your point about choosing a location that has office hours that fit your schedule. I’ll be sure to ask about this so we know we can set up appointments after work.

  8. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I am impressed!

    Extremely useful info specially the last part
    🙂 I care for such info a lot. I was looking for this particular
    information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

  9. It really helped when you said that we should check the clinical experience of the dentist to ensure that they are well-trained to the procedure that you need them to do. This tip will really be useful for us since we are new in this town, and we have no idea which clinic to choose. We just needed to get my son treated since he has been having cavities due to his negligence with his oral health ever since he was a kid. Thanks!

  10. I really like your advice to try and find a dentist office that has after hours and weekends available for dental emergencies. My daughter has a retainer, and she is afraid that it is going to snap while she is sleeping. Just in case that happens, I will be sure to find a dentist office that is accommodating of after-hours emergencies with retainers.

  11. My family and I just moved to a new area, and we’re on the lookout for a new dentist we can start visiting. You had some great tips for choosing someone like this, and I liked how you said to choose a dentist that invests in the newest dental technologies so they can constantly change and improve patient experience and treatment process. Thanks; we’ll keep this in mind when choosing a new dentist best for us.

  12. Thank you for sharing the advice that when looking for a dentist you should make sure that you feel comfortable talking to them and sharing your questions and concerns. My family recently moved and I want to find a dentist that makes my children feel relaxed and comfortable, so I will make sure to visit potential offices and meet the dentists before making a decision. Also, I like that you say to find out if the dentist provides emergency care because this would give me peace of mind that I would know where to go right away if anyone in my family had a dental emergency.

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