Having someone poking and prodding the inside of your mouth isn’t everyone’s favorite experience, but dentists are one of the most important medical fields we have. As such, finding and choosing the right dentist for you can feel like a monumental task, with an endless number of factors to consider.
Luckily, this decision isn’t as hard as you think, and to prove it, we’ve compiled a short list of the most important qualities you can look for when choosing your dentist.
What Are Their Qualifications & Do They Provide High Quality Work?
Determining the quality of a dentist’s work without experiencing it yourself can be challenging. Therefore, the first thing to look for is what qualifications and training they have, as this will tell you a great deal about what skills they have to offer.
Furthermore, you may even be able to garner what their specialty is and compare that to what kind of dental work you intend to focus on.
Experience is also a major factor here, and you have every right to inquire about how long a dentist has been practicing for, whether they regularly attend conferences, as well as, if they take any additional educational classes to stay on top of newly developed practices.
Lastly, many dentists keep before and after photos of patients they’ve worked on. Getting a look at those photos can give you a clear idea of what results you can expect from them.
Do They Have a Favorable Location & Operating Hours?
While it would be nice to take a day off work to attend a dentist’s appointment, not everyone has this luxury. With that said, it is important to factor in where the dentist is located and make note of their operating hours. Try to choose a dentist that is located in an area that coincides with your daily work commute, or if you don’t have reliable transportation, close to home.
Make sure that the hours of operation are reasonable, and flexible, with time slots for early mornings, afternoons, and weekends.
Do They Offer Emergency Care?
Unfortunately, dental emergencies can happen, and when they do, it is critical that you are seen as soon as possible. Those looking for a new dentist will want to choose one that has reasonable operating hours, and time slots that are open for emergencies.
Make sure to ask about emergency situations and establish what happens when you have an emergency during regular office hours, and after hours. Some dental offices do not offer a direct line to the dentist during after hours.
How Affordable Are They & Do They Provide Direct Billing Options?
Dental work does not run cheap, and it can fluctuate greatly depending on what kind of services you need and whether you have insurance. While the price of services rendered should not be the main or sole factor when choosing a dentist, it is helpful in that it provides you with a baseline of what is affordable, and what is not for your personal situation.
For instance, if you have dental insurance, it is important to ask whether the dental practice accepts it and if they are in-network or out-of-network. If they do accept your insurance, make sure that they will sit down with you and discuss what is covered under the plan and what is not, so that you know exactly what type of out-of-pocket expenses you may incur. If you are looking for an easy way to pay, and have insurance, look for a dentist that does direct billing to your insurance company.
If you do not have insurance, make sure that the dentist of choice will provide you with an estimated quote for services needed, so that you know what will need to be paid upfront. Beyond this, make sure that they offer multiple payment options.
How Are Their Interpersonal Patient Skills/Patient Care?
A dentist you don’t get along with is the same as a dentist you don’t want to see, and the same goes for that dentist’s staff. Ideally, your dentist should be welcoming and willing to converse with you about procedures, test results, and how they plan to rectify various issues. Strong communication skills can help to put you at ease when faced with a long or complicated procedure, as well as properly convey the importance of taking certain measures in order to maintain your dental health.
When dealing with other staff members, you should feel comfortable and well cared for without feeling rushed, lost, or ashamed in any way. Staff should be helpful and informative in order to prepare you as much as possible for current and future appointments. This includes taking care of your physical comfort, by offering up water when it is needed, asking if you’d like the television on, or providing blankets if you are cold.
There are two ways to determine what kind of interpersonal skills a dentist employs: either ask around or talk to them directly. Other patients are great sources for how a dentist made them feel, health-wise and emotion-wise. Likewise, conversing with the dentist’s office directly gives you an immediate sense of how you’ll be treated.
In addition to this, a dentist’s office should provide an “end-to-end” experience, offering accommodations like appointment reminders for upcoming treatments, and following up to check in on a patient after the completion of a procedure.
A Modern Facility With Advanced Digital Technologies and Treatment Options
Look for a dentist that has a clean, modern facility that is well-organized, kid-friendly, and uses state-of-the-art dental technologies. While new dental technologies don’t always increase patient outcomes, they do positively impact the patient experience. However, if the dentist does use state-of-the-art technology, make sure that pricing guides and cancellation policies are easy to access, as this tech can make services more expensive.
It is also extremely important to take a look at what treatment services are being offered, as no two dentists are alike. For instance, one dentist may be licensed to offer Invisalign (invisible braces), while another may offer only traditional braces.
What kind of Referrals and Recommendations Are They Getting?
Referrals and recommendations are powerful tools when searching for a dentist. Your friends, family, and coworkers all have an opinion on who their favorite dentist is, and most dentist’s websites have a review section for public viewing. Getting the thoughts and opinions of others is a great way to start your search and is probably the easiest information to obtain.
Furthermore, a referral from another medical professional, such as your family doctor, is a fantastic way of finding a high quality dentist. Often, professionals will work side by side, getting to know each other and their work, meaning they have inside information on who has the skills to match your expectations. As a bonus, if you already get along well with your doctor, they’ll likely recommend someone similar to themselves, so you’re assured to get equal, or even better care.
Wrapping It Up
All in all, when it comes to choosing a dentist, a patient will look for someone who is honest, compassionate, has extensive knowledge and training, as well as provides patients with a high-tech facility equipped with the latest dental services. But most importantly, a warm welcome from the office can be a game-changer when making your decision.
If you’d like to come for a dental visit and/or have any questions, feel free to get in touch today.