No one likes going to the dentist, but at one point or another, everyone has to go. Perhaps youve finally decided to start seeing one regularly to take care of your teeth, or you have moved to a new area and dont have a dentist where you are now, or you may have a broken tooth or another dental emergency that is forcing you to find a dentist today to get some help. Whatever the reason, you dont have a regular dentist already and you need to find one. How do you find a good one? Here are some red flags to look for when trying to find Mr. Right or Ms. Right in a dentist
- Do they accept your insurance? This is a very binary criteria. If they take your insurance and you like them, make an appointment. If they dont, move on to the next option. Ask ahead of time if the dentists office accepts your insurance coverage. A competent office will usually beat you to the punch and verify if they accept your insurance themselves, so if theyre not asking, this is also an indicator that you may not want to choose them. If they have asked and it turns out they dont accept your insurance, then the choice is simple. You need to keep looking for another dental provider.
- Location: Is the dentists office close to where you live, work or take your kids to school? No matter how great a dentist may be, no matter how many referrals youve gotten from friends or coworkers, if the location is too far, its going to turn into a hassle. Especially if you have to have work done where youll be numb and possibly unable to drive afterwards, a distant location makes arranging for someone to drive with you more difficult. This should also be a dealbreaker for you.
- Office staff: How does the office staff treat you when you call or come into the office? Are they polite, smiling, and professional? If they look stressed or are curt with you more than once (anyone can have a bad day…best to give them the benefit of the doubt the first time) this may be an indicator of the way the office is run which will undoubtedly bleed over into the way they treat their patients. Competence is a big factor to consider also. If they keep billing amounts that are too high because they cant figure out the correct way to interact with your insurance, or if they are bungling appointments then you should find another office to work with. No matter how good a dentist may be, he or she is only as good as their staff.
- How are you treated by the dentist? If youre satisfied with the office staff, be sure youre also satisfied with how the dentist treats you. One woman recently interviewed recounted a story about the first dentist she saw after moving to Tucson, Arizona. She was very self-conscious about her teeth that had been stained when she was a child from medication. She asked him to talk to her about bleaching options, upon which he told her Honey, you just need to wear darker lipstick. Needless to say she never went back to that dentist because she felt talked down to and that he absolutely wasnt listening to her needs. Make sure your dentist is a partner with you in your oral care, not just someone you tolerate because you have to. In addition, how does the dentist partner with you in your care plan? If you want more information or details on a procedure or a diagnosis, how forthcoming are they? A great dentist will take the time to explain everything you need at the level of detail you ask for, and will be concerned with patient education without you having to ask for it.
- Personal referrals: Word-of-mouth is one of the strongest ways to build a business, and the word about a good dentist is sure to get around. Ask the people around you that you trust most for their own referrals and youll find that most often, this leads you to a dentist that you will also love. Good dentists are busy dentists, so dont be put off if it takes you a little longer to get in to see the ones that are recommended to you. As long as its a reasonable amount of time, a good dentist is worth the wait.
You may have no choice in an emergency oral matter, but you definitely have the choice to become a return patient. Going to the dentist is one thing that people dread most, but finding a good dentist who gives you what you need can really go far in making the process more bearable. Pay attention to the entire experience as you try a new dentist out and you may find a dentist youre willing to partner with for the long run.