Choosing a dentist doesn’t have to be a hassle. It doesn’t have to be a frightening or intimidating experience, either. If you’re in the market for a dental professional, here are just a few tips for choosing a good one.
1. Mind Your Budget
If you have insurance, make sure that the dentist is within your network. If you don’t have insurance, double-check with the receptionist that they offer payment plans or care credits. While price shouldn’t be your only factor in choosing a dentist, it can play a very important role in finding the best dentist for your personal circumstances, so don’t beat around the bush. Be upfront about your budget.
2. Ask for Recommendations
Most people have seen a dentist at some point in their lives. This includes your friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers. What clinic did they visit? Were they happy with the service that they received? Even if they can only say bad things about a particular dentist, that’s one more name that you can cross off your shortlist.
3. Stay In Your Area
This is especially important if you know that you’ll need a lot of work done. You don’t want to drive hours and hours every time that you’re scheduled for a follow-up visit. While there’s nothing wrong with going out of your way to consult a specialist or get something custom-fitted for the first time, your primary dental professional should be a local one.
When it comes to the local options, check the closest high-population city. If you live in a small city, the chances are dentists in your area don’t have enough reviews for you to properly evaluate them, but when it comes to larger cities, the best dentists stand out easily from the crowd. For example, if you leave in San Mateo in the Bay Area, you see that Yelp reviews for most dentists are in the lower tens numbers, but when you check San Francisco, you see dentists such as Union Square Dental Practice with 100+ Yelp reviews.
4. Find an Expert
Speaking of specialists, if you already know that you have a particular dental problem to fix, you might want to search for an expert in that field. For example, if you need to whiten your teeth before your wedding, you can find more options and a higher level of skill with a trained cosmetic dentist rather than an “average Joe.” You might have to weed through a lot of other dentists to find them, but the effort will be worth it.
5. Ask About Their Equipment
There are advancements being made in dental technology every day, and you’ll want a dentist who is on the cutting edge of the industry. Ask them if they’ve heard about things like Ortho Share 3D and the Piezotome CUBE. Check their website to see if they use lasers, imaging software or other advanced tools. If they can’t offer the best equipment, they probably can’t offer the best service.
6. Read Reviews
This is one of the easiest ways to figure out if a dentist is truly as good as they claim. If they have gushing reviews from hundreds of patients, they’re probably the real deal. On the other hand, if Yelp is full of complaints and concerns, you might want to steer clear of that particular clinic. Learn from the mistakes of the people who came before you.
7. Verify Their Credentials
How long have they been in business? Where did they go to school? When were they issued their license? Are they members of any professional organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA)? Have they been featured in any dental magazines? Doing your homework today can save you from a fraud tomorrow, so vet your dentist before you fall back into their chair.
8. Check Their Availability
It can be tough to fit a dental appointment into your schedule, so make sure to consider office hours when choosing your next dentist. If your shift only ends at 5PM, don’t pick a clinic that closes at 4:30PM. If you have to fit in a filling during your lunch break, don’t pick a dentist that shuts down between 11AM – 12PM. Ask about weekend hours, too. You might be able to squeeze in an appointment during special extended Saturday hours.
9. Test Their Customer Service
Get on the phone and present yourself as a new patient. Email them or fill out their online forms and see how long that it takes the office to get back to you. Not only will you learn about their efficacy, but you’ll also get a taste of their overall demeanor. Do they respond in a warm, friendly way, or is it all business? Are you contacted by a real person, or can you tell that you’re just getting an automated reply?
10. Schedule a Consultation
Last but certainly not least, never make plans with a dentist before you sit down with them for a face-to-face meeting. They might have a clean website but a dirty office, or they might sound great over the phone but have a terrible personality in real life. You won’t know until you actually meet them. Always schedule a consultation before committing to any procedures.
These are just a few tips for choosing a new dentist. It doesn’t have to be scary if you take the time to find a smart, skilled and reliable professional!