10 Tips for Finding the Right Dentist

How to Find the Right Dentist –

Considering that you and your dentist will be partners in your dental healthcare for the long haul, choosing the right dentist is an important decision for you and your family. How do you go about finding the right dentist?

The American Dental Association (ADA) offers these suggestions:

  • Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for their recommendations.
  • Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
  • If you’re moving, ask your current dentist to make a recommendation.
  • Contact your local or state dental society. The ADA provides a list of local and state dental societies on its consumer website, www.mouthhealthy.org. Your local and state dental societies also may be listed in the telephone directory under “dentists” or “associations.”

The ADA suggests calling or visiting more than one dentist before selecting one.

While this is good, practical advice, when putting it into the context of our daily lives and overall healthcare plan, what things should we really consider when choosing a dentist?

To help you with this, we’ve come up with a list of what we think are the top 10 things to consider:

First make an initial list of three or four dentist based on a few things:

1. Do they submit claims to all insurances?
If you want to see a dentist that comes highly recommended by a friend or family member but is out of your network, call the practice and ask if they submit claims to all insurance providers. Most do, so it is worth asking before eliminating this practice from your list.

 2. Do they offer other payment options for non-insured patients?
If you do not have dental insurance a big consideration may be whether or not the practice offers patient financing options such as Credit Care or Springstone.  As many practices require payment upfront, having a means to pay for the service insures you get the treatment you need.

3. Are they members of professional associations such as the American Dental Association or the Wisconsin Dental Association?
Members of the ADA voluntarily agree to abide by the ADA Code as a condition of membership in the Association.
The ADA Code has three main components: The Principles of Ethics, the Code of Professional Conduct and the Advisory Opinions. For more info: WDA Code of Ethics.

4. Where is the office located? / What are the office hours?
Are they convenient to your schedule? Do they offer early mornings, evenings?   Consider if it would be more convenient to have the office located near your work or home.  A big part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums is simply being able to make it to your regular appointments.  If it would be easiest for you to pop over to your dentist during your lunch hour a location near your work may make sense.

5. Does the practice offer new patient specials or do anything to show appreciation for current patients?
Many practices will offer an introductory discount for new patients on cleanings and exams.  Some practices also have promotions in place to show their appreciation for current patients, whether it is a monthly patient drawing or referral incentives.

So now that you have narrowed down your list, take time to call the office to ask some questions and possibly make an appointment to see the facility and meet the dentist. Here are some things to ask and look for at this stage:

6. What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer?
What is the dentist’s approach to helping patients feel more comfortable in the chair? Whether or not the dentist offers oral sedation may be of particular consideration for those who have a fear of going to the dentist.

 7. What type of ongoing training/continuing education do the doctors
participate in?

How often? Make sure the dentist you choose stays up to date with the latest advancements in dental care.

8. What happens in the case of an emergency?
Does the practice you are considering have emergency hours or do they refer the care elsewhere?

9. Are treatment plans discussed up front and cost estimates given?
When discussing treatment, are the plans covered in detail so you know what to expect, how many visits the treatment will take, how much time? Are you given accurate estimates up front? Are your questions answered clearly?

10. Take a look around the office.
Is it comfortable, neat and orderly? Are dentists and staff wearing gloves and protective gear during patient treatment? Is the staff friendly and welcoming?

While choosing a new dentist is an important decision, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. Hopefully some of these tips will be helpful to you in your search. And of course, if you are looking for a new dentist, we invite you to call our office in Sturgeon Bay (920) 743-6976 or Sister Bay (920) 854-5200 to set up an appointment to see the facility and meet the doctors.