If you do not have a dentist who you really like for your family, then you understand how important the choice of one really can be. Finding a dental professional who works for both the grownups and the kids can be truly challenging. Here are some good rules of thumb for how to find the right dentist.
Understand Your Dental Benefits First
It may be that your choice of dental professional is determined in large part by your family's dental plan. If you have a Dental HMO, then you can only select a dentist who is a participant in the HMO's network. With a PPO plan, your co-payment will be higher if you do not go to an in network dentist.
Inquire of Your Family and Friends for Dentist Recommendations
There is no better referral than one that comes from neighbors, friends, family, or work colleagues. They can tell you what they like (or dislike) about their own dentist. Alternatively, you might go to your medical doctor and ask for a good referral. Once you have a few personally referred dentists, compare them against the professional dental association lists. The ADA, or American Dental Association, is a good one, as is the AGD, or Academy of General Dentistry.
Consider Distance and Access
One thing you will have to decide is whether your dentist is closer to your home or office. Another consideration is your own schedule's flexibility. Some dentists offer Saturday appointments, while others feature evening office hours. You need to let possible dentists know if your scheduling availability is complicated so that you do not find yourself unable to ever make an appointment, especially when a dental emergency arises.
Sit Down and Consult With the Dentists on Your Short List
Once you narrow down your potential dentists to a few, it is time to visit in person, or at the very least to call, the ones on your short list. Learn what dental procedures will be referred to a surgeon and which ones will be completed in house. Determine how many months in advance of a regular cleaning or checkup you will need to schedule your appointments.
Take Careful Notes After this Consultation
When you go in person for an upfront consultation, look around the office. It should be organized, clean, and tidy. The staff members should show you courtesy. Consider asking the following questions:
• Is their office welcoming to children?
• How about sensitive dental records and medical history, do they safeguard them well?
• How comfortable do you feel talking with or questioning the prospective dentist?
Remember that you would be in his or her hands when it came time for any major dental work, so trust is key.
Think About How Compatible a Dentist is
There are dentists who specialize in helping patients who are afraid of dental work, especially root canals. Some dentists will provide sedation, which simply means that they can give you sleeping gas, a pill, or a sedative intravenously to allow you to relax if you are fearful or nervous. Children's dentists pride themselves on working with frightened or inexperienced children. They would tend to be far more child friendly than a general or even family dentist.
Think About What You Are Willing to Pay
If you are fanatically loyal to your dentist, you may not care about how much each appointment costs you. Most patients will be concerned about whether their insurance company plan will cover one hundred percent of a basic checkup and a professional teeth cleaning once or twice a year. This makes it worthwhile to contemplate what each visit will cost you whether or not you have good dental insurance, or no dental insurance at all.
This guest post was contributed by Dr. Stoddard of The Center for Dental Excellence, one of the dentists in Pocatello, Idaho. The Center for Dental Excellence offers a wide array of services for the whole family.