It is easy to find a competent dentist, but finding the one that is truly right for you is not as easy. Some dentists are not up to date with the latest techniques and technology. Some specialize in patient groups that may exclude some members of your family. Some are rushed and overbooked, and some simply do not find value in customizing care for each patient’s needs. Here is what to look for in the dentist that is best for your family.
Education and Training
Where did the dentist attend dental school, and when did he or she graduate? Is continuing education a priority in the office? Does the dentist hold post-graduate certifications? Is the dentist experienced with targeted populations such as pediatrics, special needs, or geriatrics?
Make sure the dentist’s background is aligned with your family’s needs. For example, a middle-aged mom living with her aging parents and a couple of teenagers may need a different dentist than a young single adult who is seeking the perfect smile.
Approach to Oral Health
Evidence-based dentistry can take many forms, but you will be happiest with a dentist whose approach to oral health matches yours. Is the dentist cutting-edge, or does he or she prefer a more traditional approach? Is the focus on preventive care? Does the dentist treat patients in a collaborative way, or is the office more authoritarian in nature? Think through your ideal dental visit, and then search for a dentist who fits what you imagined.
Is the practice near your office or home? Do the hours fit into your schedule? Is financing available? Does the dentist accept your insurance? What is the policy for missed appointments? Are emergency same-day appointments available?
If you or anyone in your family has complex oral health needs, make sure the office caters to those. Some practices have an “all under one roof” approach, while others refer patients with extensive issues to other offices. Some encourage patients to bring a support person, while others do not allow friends or family members in the treatment room. Make sure the policies mesh with your family’s needs and preferences.
Although it would be unwise to shop exclusively on price, good dentists are generally competitive within their geographic area. If you know you need specific work done, call around for ballpark estimates. Otherwise, ask about common procedures such as simple fillings or cleanings. You will not get firm prices without an exam, as fees are based are numerous individual factors, but you should be able to get general averages to compare. Be wary of any office that refuses to talk costs at all over the phone.
When you have narrowed down your list to just a few dentists, stop in to observe the office environment. Are you warmly greeted? Does the waiting room feel comfortable and inviting? Are you provided with straightforward, honest answers to your questions? Do staff members wear gloves when appropriate? Are the treatment rooms clean and sanitary? Most of all, do you feel comfortable with the idea of receiving treatment in that office?
Ultimately, the dentist-patient relationship is extremely individualized, and even a well-trained, highly recommended dentist may not click with you and your family. Think of your first appointment as a final interview instead of a commitment. Make the effort to get to know the dentist and staff, and then think hard about whether the personal connection is there. If not, feel free to move on to the next dentist on your list.
Ready to Start?
If you are ready to get started on your journey to a better smile, contact Carmel Dental Associates at 845-225-2224 to schedule your appointment.