A well-chosen dentist is a lifesaver in more than one way. A qualified and experienced dentist takes care of your teeth and gums and also gives back the emotional and mental poise that you may have lost due to gum disease, missing or crooked teeth, or a disfigured jaw.
A dentist doesn’t just clean or remove teeth. A professional dental clinic can become an integral part of your and your family’s well-being: like a dental home. You can take great comfort in such a home of dependable service when you drop in for regular dental visits, complex dental procedure, or a dental emergency. The question is: how to find the best dentist or practice that fits your particular needs and preferences.
1. Begin With the Basics
Dental care often requires frequent regular dental visits. Therefore, the chosen qualified dentist’s practice should suit all your specific requirements. As part of the screening, consider the following while making a choice:
- Is the dental clinic comfortable to visit from your place of work and home?
- Does it offer convenient visiting hours?
- Can you avail of dental benefits?
- Since communicating dental issues is essential, will you require the services of an interpreter?
- Is your dental practitioner a member of the American Dental Association (ADA)?
2. Start the Search
Dental patients can view online and print advertisements online, go through flyers in the mailbox, and browse patient reviews of nearby dentists on social media sites. However, remember that your dental health needs and expectations are unique. Accordingly, here are some useful ways to connect with a dentist.
- Use ADA’s Find-A-Dentist tool and locate the doctor by name, specialty, and location
- The local dental society can provide you with a list of names in your area
- Ask a relative or a trusted friend
- In case you find it difficult to afford dental services or don’t have benefits, nearby dental schools or the local health department can help you find dental care
Now that you have a shortlist of dentists or dental practices visit their website and check out their dental offices on social media to gain more information.
3. Visit the Dental Office and Meet the Dentist
You may call the dentist, but don’t hesitate to pay a personal visit as it is the ideal way to choose your dental practitioner. Schedule a “meet and greet” visit with the dentist, and interact with the dental staff BEFORE making an appointment. Such a visit will help you know the manner of the staff and the physical environment of the office.
Next, formulate some questions and take along your dental/medical records so that the dentist is fully aware of your overall health. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- How willing is the dentist in providing preventive care information about dental problems?
- Do the dentist and staff take care of emergencies after office hours?
- Does the clinic’s staff understand your benefit plan? Do they offer financing options that take care of treatment costs?
- Will the dental clinic record and permanently store your dental and medical history?
Dental experts recommend that you share past dental concerns or experiences, including any anxiety, so that the dentist is fully informed of what you are thinking and responds accordingly.
4. Choose A “Partner”
You want a dentist who is willing to invest in the patient-dentist relationship by being a trusted partner in your health care team for you and your family. Since dental health can affect your overall health, pick someone who motivates you, and can be a trusted health advisor when the time comes to make dental care decisions.
How To Choose Dental Specialists
Apart from a general dentist, you might require the services of a dental specialist with advanced qualifications and command over complex procedures. To help you choose such a specialist, here’s a ready reckoner.
How To Choose A Periodontist For Gum Disease
Periodontists are highly trained in the surgical and non-surgical diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gum or periodontal diseases and implant placement. They also carry out cosmetic oral plastic surgical procedures. A periodontist performs non-surgical treatment such as plaque removal and root planning, and surgical ones, including gum graft surgery, laser treatment, dental crown lengthening, and plastic surgery.
A reputed periodontist has a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) a degree from an accredited dental school with three to seven years of training in an American Dental Association (ADA)-approved residency program in periodontology. Successful residency training makes them eligible for national board certification by the American Board of Periodontology. Moreover, periodontists need to be recertified every six years, according to American Dental Ratings.
To select a qualified periodontist, seek a referral from your general dentist. While choosing, consider their years of practice, recertification, continuing education courses, reasons behind surgical and non-surgical treatment plan, acceptance of insurance, and in-house financing.
Gum disease patients should also ensure that the periodontist has the latest dental equipment and an appealing manner during the consultation. The specialist should have a high quality of referral network and collaboration with other dental professionals related to your case, have an in-house lab or takes responsibility for the quality of outside lab or technician, and offers emergency care.
How To Select The Right Dentist For Appropriate Dental Implants
A dental implant is one of the most successful procedures, with over 98% success rate. Dentists and dental implant specialists have transformed the way missing teeth or infected teeth are replaced with natural-looking and durable teeth through high-precision procedures.
However, American Dental Ratings recommends that it is still vital that patients ask the right questions while choosing their implant dentist.
- Specialty matters: For example, only oral surgeons and periodontists are trained for implant surgery, including some prosthodontists. Note that an ‘Implantologist’ is not a recognized specialty and does not indicate training.
- Dental courses: Verify the type, dates, and duration of the courses taken and their endorsement by professional associations.
- Depth of experience: Ask about the number of dental implants placed. It should be by the hundreds if not thousands. If not, re-evaluate their background.
- Networking: Is your dental implant specialist well-connected with other dentists to get a second opinion?
- Testimonials: If possible, speak with past patients of the dentist and their experience with the doctor.
- Details of the procedure: Get satisfactory answers about the procedure, steps involved, time taken, precautions, risks, before and after photos, and supporting literature.
- Physical verification: To make a final decision, visit the clinic, and evaluate the confidence of the dentist and the attitude towards a patient.
Only Qualified Dentists Can Offer Low-Cost Dental Implants
Only a well-trained and experienced specialist in dental implants can be in a position to offer affordable or low-cost dental implant procedures. A skilled dentist with years of experience in accurate dental examination and diagnosis, choosing the appropriate treatment and an excellent track record in completing the procedure is NOT likely to recommend costly procedures.
However, dental patients, while screening dentists based on the qualification-experience-cost matrix should research the dental service provider so that there are no red flags going into treatment.
- Cost and Skill Related: Procedure gone wrong means more costs. Studies indicate that technicalities decide the success rate of implants. For example, osseointegration, the health of the tissues, and computer-aided position and number of implants all affect post-implantation success and reduction in complications.
- No wishy-washy prices: As a start, if a dentist suggests an “approximate” or a “range” of costs without a thorough dental examination, you may have to look elsewhere. Because an experienced implant dentist will tell you dental implants are personalized, and no two patients or their implant treatments are the same.
Credentials matter: An American Academy of Implant Dentistry (AAID) credentialed implant dentist will have no problem in answering any of these questions to your satisfaction. Credentialing by AAID is proof of meeting basic standards for education, skills, training, experience, and competence, according to American Dental Ratings.
- Type of procedure: Only trust a credentialed dentist in this matter, as an inappropriate choice can cause more pain, affect oral health, and lead to incremental costs.
- Probing questions: Patients should also quiz credentialed dentists. Enquire if their price includes bone augmentation, soft tissue treatment, and extraction if required. Get information about the abutment, crown, temporary, manufacturing of the crown, and the size of the implant.
- Time to reconsider: If a dental procedure is costing more than other tooth replacement options or an offer price for implants is too good to be true, it’s time to stop and reconsider your decision.
Dental patients should prepare themselves well while selecting a dental specialist who understands your health and emotional needs, and who will be a partner for life.