One of the most difficult things about moving to a new location is finding good healthcare providers. I get the question from friends and family all the time: How do I find a good dentist? Well, first off you need a GREAT dentist. And I have a few insider tips to help you find one:
First, lets talk about what I think makes a great dentist.
Dentistry is a profession built on skill and trust. A dentist must have the clinical education and skills to provide excellent care to his or her patients. At the same time we must quickly build trust with a patient and put them at ease. Its not easy to be great at both.
A great dentist must care for his or her patients – I don’t mean just simply provide care, but he must actually care about them as individuals. A dentist who truly cares puts their well being and oral health before any desire to make a buck.
A great dentist must stay up to date on changes in our profession. Dentistry has changed quite a bit in my 10 years of practice. Imagine how much it must have changed since you were a child? Dentistry today is not the same as it was – we can perform procedures quicker, easier, and more predictably now more than ever. And much, much, more comfortably. Going to the dentist is not a scary or painful experience anymore.
A great dentist must be wise enough to know his or her limitations. A general dentist is trained and licensed to perform all procedures in dentistry. However there are times when referring a patient to a specialist is in the patient’s best interest. A great dentist knows when to refer.
So how do you find a great dentist? Thats the tricky part. Here are some questions to ask that should help you out:
How much time does the dentist schedule for a new patient examination? In my practice, we schedule a one-hour comprehensive examination for most of my new patients. With children, we will sometime schedule 30 minutes, and with some adults with more complex problems, we will schedule 1.5 hours. This allows me enough time to thoroughly examine a patient, have time for discussion, and time for us to get to know each other.
Does the dentist participate in lots of insurance plans? This one is a real insiders tip. A dentist who is “in network” with lots of insurance plans is forced to cut corners, either in time or quality, in order to make up for the deep discount the insurance company has forced him to take. Does the dentist office always seem rushed? Are they always behind schedule? Do they only allow 30-45 minutes for an adult cleaning? This might be a red flag.
Does the dentist use magnification? Teeth are tiny! In dentistry, we rely on our eyes to diagnose and treat cavities, cracked teeth, and periodontal disease. You can’t treat what you can’t see. Because of that, a good dentist will use some form of magnification when examining and working in the mouth. The most common form of magnification is a pair of telescopes, known as loupes, mounted to glasses. Some dentists may also use a dental operating microscope.
What kind of office staff does the dentist have? This is one of the most important questions to answer. A great dentist is surrounded by a great team. The only way to get a feel for an office team is to visit the office. But if you have a good experience on the phone when calling the office, then that is a good sign. Without a great support team, a great dentist can’t do their job. I know I could not operate my practice without my amazing team!
Do you feel comfortable with your dentist? This might be the ultimate test. Is your dentist honest and compassionate? As a dentist, I have to treat patients who are embarrassed or ashamed of their dental condition or their smile. It takes true compassion to make an anxious or embarrassed patient feel safe, not judged and truly cared for. This is my favorite part of my job.
Check Online: Most dentists have websites and facebook pages. You can look at reviews on Google, Healthgrades, or Facebook. Reviews are great, but just because an office has 100 5-star reviews doesn’t necessarily mean its the best in town. Take some time and read through them so you can get a good feel for the office. If the office has some bad reviews, don’t automatically think its a bad office. Take a moment to see if and how the office responded to the review. That can be very telling as to how professional the office is.
Ask a friend or neighbor: One of the best ways to find a truly great dentist is to ask someone you know and trust. You are almost guaranteed to get an honest opinion when you talk to someone who has been a long time patient in a practice. My practice is built on referrals just like this.
So those are a few suggestions that should help you out – no matter where you live!
If you or someone you know would like to become a patient in a practice with three great dentists, please call our office at 736-1024. We’d love to meet you.