Tips for Choosing the Best Dentist

Tips for Choosing the Best Dentist
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Tips for Choosing the Best DentistClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Finding the Best Dentist
  2. What to Look For
  3. Where to Start
  4. Tips on What to Look for & Ask
  5. How to Decide
  6. References

Choosing a dentist is an important life decision. Quality oral care is central to good overall health, and when you pick a dental professional you are placing trust that you will get good care at an affordable price.

You may have to choose a dentist who is an in-network provider for your dental insurance. Your insurance carrier should have a list of all in-network dentists and their patient ratings.

Finding the Best Dentist

Choosing a dentist is not always an easy task. Many people grow anxious when they visit a dentist, and a dentist who is not a good fit can make regular visits even more emotionally taxing.

Because regular dental check-ups are necessary to maintain good oral health, it is worth your while to conduct a thorough search and find a dentist who suits your needs.

What to Look For

Some of the most important things to consider when looking for a new dentist include:

  • Finding an in-network provider for your dental insurance
  • Accessibility 
  • Services offered
  • Education and experience
  • Patient reviews
  • Comfort
Accessibility
The closer the dentist is to your home, your workplace or your kids’ school, the better. The dentist’s office should ideally be open before or after work hours or for a few hours on the weekend to allow for more convenient scheduling.
Services Offered

You never know what dental treatment you might need in the future. Look for a dentist who can offer comprehensive services from preventive care to major restorations.

If you have kids, they should also offer pediatric dental services like fluoride treatments and sealants.

Education & Experience
Your dentist should have an active license and many years of experience in the field. If they have additional qualifications, that’s an added advantage. For instance, you might look for a dentist who is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA).
Dental Insurance
Dental insurance providers usually work with select dentists in a given area. You can pay less if you go to a dentist within your insurance provider’s network. If you pick a dentist outside the insurance network, your out-of-pocket expenses will be higher.
Patient Reviews
Reviews and ratings from patients can provide essential details about a dentist. These people can give objective information based on what they did and did not enjoy about their experiences at a dentist’s office. They can give you more details about things like the average waiting time, whether staff members are friendly and the quality of service.
Comfort

You should feel comfortable and relaxed while in your dentist’s care. This means something different for each person. Would you feel comfortable with a dentist of the opposite gender? Do you trust the dentist will do a good job?

You may have to trust your gut. If you feel a particular dentist isn’t right for you, it is best to look for a different one.

Your relatives, friends, and colleagues likely all have dentists they visit regularly. Ask them about their dentist and whether they would recommend that dental office to others. You can also search for dentists in your area using the ADA’s online search tool

If you are moving to another state, ask your current dentist to recommend a good dentist in your new location. A local pharmacist or dental society can also help you find some dentists in your new neighborhood.

Tips on What to Look for and What to Ask

Once you assemble a list of dentists, you will need to compare them based on certain criteria. Here are some questions you might ask to help you narrow down your options: 

  • What are their working hours? 
  • Do they offer emergency appointments after working hours?
  • What happens if you miss an appointment?
  • Which networks of dental insurance do they have? 
  • What dental issues do they deal with most frequently?
  • How long does it take to get to the dentist?
  • Is there ample parking space?
  • Is there a comfortable waiting room? 
  • Are the staff members friendly?

How to Decide

Ideally, you will be visiting your new dentist for many years. Your final decision should take all applicable factors into account to ensure that they are a good fit for your needs. 

Start by searching for each dentist’s contact information online and making some phone consultations. Ask them about the things that matter most to you, such as hours of operation or which insurance plans they accept. Based on the feedback you get, narrow down your list to a few dentists who meet the cut-off criteria. 

To make the final decision, visit each dentist’s office in person. While there, check the physical appearance of the premises. Is it clean and orderly? How large is the waiting room and how many people are there at the moment? If you are looking for a dentist who will serve your whole family, consider taking your children with you. See if they feel comfortable in the space and with the staff.

Interact with the staff members, especially the receptionist. You may want to ask them a few questions about their services and policies. You can also ask about how the practice uses technology and whether they have online or telephone services.

Most importantly, speak to the dentist about any critical issues you are having. You will often need to make an appointment to do this. 

You can visit a few dentists before making the final decision. Once you decide which dentist suits you best, give them your dental records to help them learn your history. You can then schedule regular appointments for routine check-ups and cleanings.

References

Choosing a dentist. (April 2022). Australian Dental Association. 

In-Network and Out of Network. (2022). The University of Southern California. 

How to Choose a Dentist (in Four Steps). (2022). MouthHealthy. 

How to Find a Dentist. (2022). Canadian Dental Association.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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