Your Dentist

Finding the right dentist is important and will make your dental visits much more enjoyable. While cleanings and other dental procedures are not very fun, you shouldn’t not settle for an overly busy, unfriendly and robotic personnel. If you ever feel uncomfortable or just don’t like the atmosphere at your dentist’s office, it may be time to start looking elsewhere as there are many choices out there.

Before you begin looking though you need to know what your dental health benefits are as most will narrow the selection of potential candidates. HMOs require you to go to a doctor that is a member of the plant, while PPO plans will have different copays depending on if the doctor is in network or out of network.

Once you know what your plan requires, begin by asking friends, family and coworkers for suggestions. Some of the best dentists may not advertise as they already have a full work load. This also gives you firsthand information from trusted sources on the environment and staff personality. If you’re still looking for suggestions, you can also ask for a list of local dentists from professional associations like the American Dental Association or the Academy of General Dentistry.

Then comes narrowing the candidates even further. Is the dentist near where you live or work? How flexible can you be when scheduling appointments? Do you need to be able to have your appointments on Saturdays? These are all questions that can narrow your candidate list even further.

When it comes down to it though, nothing beats personal experience.

Factor in accessibility. Do you prefer a dentist location near your workplace or your home? How flexible can you be when it comes to scheduling appointments? How important is it for your dentist to have office hours on Saturdays? You will want to convey this information to a prospective dentist and dentist office staff.

Meet for a consultation. When you have a list of prospective dentists, call or visit several before making an appointment. Ask if he or she a member of organized dentistry (such as ADA or AGD), and find out which dental procedures are completed in-office and which are referred out. Also, ask how far in advance you need to schedule regular checkups or cleanings.

Evaluate the dentist after an appointment. During your initial visit, check the office to make sure it’s clean, neat and orderly. How courteous are staff members? Do they handle your private medical and dental history with care? How child-friendly is the office?

After you leave, consider these questions: Were the office location and hours convenient? Would you feel comfortable asking this dentist questions? Would you trust his or her recommendations or referrals?