A Personal Decision
If the thought of going to the dentist makes you anxious, you are in good company. But your dentist is your partner in oral health. Routine dental checkups and treatment by a dentist can help keep your teeth, mouth, and gums healthy to prevent dental disease. Poor oral health can even contribute to other health risks including cardiovascular disease. How do you find the best dentist who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.
1. Get Referrals
Get started by creating a list of potential dentists. To do this, ask family, friends, and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the dentists’ credentials and experience. As you narrow down your list, call each dentist’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the dentist.
2. Research the Dentist’s Credentials
Board certification is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing a dentist. It tells you that the dentist has the necessary training, skills, and experience to provide healthcare in general dentistry. Also, confirm that the dentist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions.
3. Consider the Dentist’s Experience
When facing an oral health condition, experience matters. The more experience a dentist has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the dentist has treated. If you suffer from dental anxiety, ask the dentist about successful approaches he or she has used with other anxious patients. If you know you need a specific procedure, ask how many of the procedures the dentist has performed and find out about complication rates.
4. Evaluate Communication Style
Choose a dentist with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the dentist, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? Did you leave feeling rushed or engaged? Find a dentist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
5. Read Patient Reviews
Reading what other people have to say about a dentist can provide insight into how a dentist practices general dentistry, as well as how his or her dental practice is operated. Patient reviews typically reflect people’s experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the dentist, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.