How do I pick the right dentist?

Ask questions about treatment philosophy, specialists to whom they refer, dental education, training and experience, staff and their training.

Finding a dentist with whom you are comfortable and who provides quality care can often be a challenge; however, the vast majority of dentists care very much about quality and the comfort of their patients. That being said, in addition to finding a dentist who performs treatment with care, skill and good judgment, patients often select a dentist based on specific personality traits.

Among the ways to find a good dentist are:

  • Ask friends and relatives
  • Talk to people who have been in the community for several years
  • Contact the local dental society
  • Ask your physician 
  • Speak with dental specialists in your area

You may have to call various offices to ask about the practice, and you may even have to set up several consultations. While this may involve some time, and maybe money, it may help in your selection.

Also, once you have selected dentist, observe that he or she is concerned about establishing overall good oral health and getting to know your dental needs and wants. Determine if they care about you. This will certainly help you decide if the treatment philosophy is right for you. 

Choosing a dentist is different for each person. One aspect to consider is do you want an individual dentist or do you want a larger group practice. Large groups have benefits such as more office hours but you may not see the same dentist each time, and depending on the type of group, your dentist may not be willing or able to see you outside of office hours for an emergency. A smaller office is often staffed by one or two dentists. They're often members of the community so more of your dollars go back to the community that you live in. They're also more likely to come in after hours if your child's been hit in the face by a soccer ball. 

Probably the most important thing is to find a dentist with whom you feel comfortable. Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers etc. who they go to. Many offices will schedule a short consultation visit with the dentist, allowing you to discuss some aspect of dental treatment. 

If you haven't had any serious tooth or gum problems, you're lucky. But as the Girl Scout motto says. "Be prepared." You may have a dentist now that does an okay job with regular cleaning and x-rays. However, if you break a tooth, is this dentist skilled in fitting crowns? If you get periodontal disease, will this be the doctor you'll trust? It's hard to determine how up-to-date your dentist is, but you can get an idea of how he/she works by inspecting how the overall offices are maintained, how clean the work area is, and how much has been invested in up-to-date equipment. You may have to spend extra time doing this, but you'll appreciate the effort if and when you have a serious problem.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.