You might have just moved to a new city, switched to a new dental insurance plan, your dentist moved to another town or is retiring, or any other reason. It’s probably just because you waited a really long time for a dental appointment. Nevertheless, if you are in need of finding a new dentist, here we will discuss some tips on choosing the right dental specialists for yourself and your family.
Four Main Principles In Finding The Right Dentist
The American Dental Association (ADA) offers four of these straightforward tips:
- If you already have a physician or family doctor, you can ask for a recommendation. You can also ask your local pharmacist. They might understand some insights into your or your family’s medical history and habits and might be able to recommend a proper dentist according to your needs
- Ask your family members, friends, co-workers, and even neighbors for their recommendations. You might be able to discuss sensitive issues like finances and specific habits.
- If you haven’t already (or if you just moved to a new location), you might want to check out the local dental society. If you live in the Canada, you can check out the ADA’s website that listed various local and state dental societies. Give them a call and they might be able to recommend a dentist based on your location, budget, and specific needs.
- If you are moving from an old dentist (i.e. if the dentist is retiring), ask them for a recommendation.
Remember that you don’t really have to commit to a single dentist immediately. You can call or visit several dentists before you select one.
Important Factors To Consider When Choosing a Dentist
Remember that when your dentist is going to be your (and your family’s) long-term oral health and hygiene partner.
Since this might be a long-term or even a lifetime commitment, you should try to find someone you are comfortable with and those that can understand your specific needs. Here are some important factors to consider when finding a suitable dentist.
If you can make a visit/survey the dentist’s office, here are some important things to pay attention to:
- How friendly and helpful the dental staff is, and how willing are they in answering your questions (i.e. ask appropriate questions and don’t be too forceful)
- Observe the dentist’s and staff’s hygiene. Check whether they wear gloves and other required equipment during procedures. Also, observe their personal hygiene
- Check whether the office is neat, clean, and tidy.
- Observe the dental equipment and the treatment room whether they are clean and functioning properly.
- Ask clearly about the dentist’s office policy on missed appointments. Some dentist’s office, for example,
Also, consider the following factors:
- How close is the dentist’s office from your house and workplace, is the office easy to get to?
- What are the office hours? How can they fit into your schedule?
- The education and training of the dentist.
- Have a chat with the dentist, and find out their approach to preventive dentistry.
- What are their arrangements and flexibilities regarding emergencies outside their office hours? Most dentists might arrange emergency services with a trustworthy colleague if they can’t tend to the emergencies.
- The dental specialist’s certification in administering anesthesia (some dentist might only be certified to administer specific types of anesthetics). If you commonly suffer from dental anxiety or have overly sensitive teeth/gums, this might be a very important issue.
- How affordable/expensive the dental service is compared to other dentists in the area. You can, for example, ask for estimates on common treatments and procedures, like a tooth extraction or dental x-ray. This will help when you are comparison shopping.
- If you have an insurance or health plan, check whether the dentist participates in it.
Top 5 Questions To Ask The Dentist
Based on the above factors, make an initial preliminary list of three or four dentists for your consideration, and you can use these questions to narrow down your options:
1. If you are a non-insured patient, do they offer flexibility with payment options?
Even if you possess a dental insurance today, you might not have the same privilege in the future. So, check whether the dentist’ s office offer any financing options depending on your area. Most dental practices require upfront payment, so this might be a very important concern especially if dental treatments are not covered in your health insurance (or you don’t have any insurance at the moment).
2. Are they a valid member of any professional association?
For example, if you are located in the U.S., is the dentist a valid member of the American Dental Association (ADA), and thus voluntarily agrees to abide by the ADA principles of ethics and code of conduct. If the dentist’s office is a member of a trustworthy professional association, it’s a good sign that it’s a credible dental specialist(s).
3. Do they accept all insurances?
Most dentists in Mississauga like Skymark Smile Centre submit claims to all insurance providers (at least major ones), so you can simply give the dental office a call and ask about this. If this is not the case, you might want to eliminate this practice from your list.
4. What are the dentist’s office hours? Where is the location?
This one is fairly straightforward, you’d want a dentist’s office that can fit conveniently to your schedule. Also, consider the possibility of emergencies: do they offer early morning practices and late evening practices. As mentioned above, you’d generally want to choose a dental practice that is located near your workplace or home.
5. Does the dentist’s office offer any special benefits for new patients or existing patients?
Some dental practices will offer special discounts for new patients, especially for regular cleaning and examination. Some others might also offer special benefits for existing patients like referral incentives, discounts, and lucky draw. This can be a source of additional value and can help you in narrowing down your choice.
Extra Considerations For Patients With Special Needs
If you have various special needs, here are some additional tips in finding the right dentist:
- Call the dentist’s office and ask if the dentist has any experience (or better, certified training) in treating patients with your specific needs/conditions
- Communication is key, so inform the dentist/staff about your specific needs. This can include financial issues and non-health-related needs
- Make sure the dentist participates in your dental insurance program according to your special needs
- This one is especially important: ask clearly whether the dentist has an interest in treating patients with your specific conditions
- Check the accessibility aspect of the dental facility
- If your specific need is related to finances, you might want to contact the dental society/association in your area/state to find out if there are any low-cost or charitable programs in your area. Clinics in dental schools or universities are also common sources of affordable dental services.
While there are many different factors to consider when choosing the right dentist, the most important thing to consider is to make sure this specific dentist can meet your needs and preferences.
The team of Skymark Smile Centre has friendly dental specialists that are experienced in delivering all kinds of dental procedures and have assisted various special needs.