So you either moved to a new city, recently moved across town, or have decided that it might be time to find a good dentist. Maybe you need a dental specialist, or a dentist for your children, or perhaps an emergency dentist. If you have decided it’s time to find the very best dentist to meet your needs, the question becomes, “How to Find a Good Dentist?
Online Search is Not Going to Cut it
If you are like most people, the starting point for any health provider search begins by “Googling” the topic. You might type a phrase like “Find a good dentist” and see what results you get. The results will be a wide array of companies, services, advertisements, websites, and some dental practices.
Narrowing Down your Search
The number of dental practices can be a dizzying array of large corporate chains, called DSO’s or dental service organizations, non-profit health clinics, group practices, and private practices. There are advertisements, special offers, attractive websites, and a lot of information to sift through. So the question becomes, which dentists are actually good?
How do you know that you are really getting a top dental practitioner? Which practice is really right for you?
In this age of digital information overload, it can be tough to make the best decision about where you go for great healthcare. This challenge can be made greater if you are uncertain of the criteria you should use to determine who would be the best dentist for your particular needs.
- You are searching, but what is it that you are searching for?
- What makes a particular dentist a good choice?
- Making the right decision is a critical choice on your path to good oral health.
- Perhaps before searching, we should decide what we are looking for.
Find a Dentist Nearby
For most prospective patients, there are more options available than you are aware of in your area. Even moderate sized communities will have a large selection of qualified dental practices that can serve your needs. This is particularly true of General Dentists who are far more numerous than specific dental specialists. With this in mind, location is often an important part of the selection process.
How to Find a Good Dentist Nearby
From our experience, having a dental practice that is convenient and accessible for your busy routine is a key element in you maintaining regular appointments. With this in mind, here are some key considerations:
- Find a practice that is close to home or work.
- Think about the time of day that you would want to schedule appointments for maximum convenience.
- A practice that is close to your children’s school can minimize disruptions to their education schedule.
- Most Dentists will work with you to find best times for appointments that allow you to avoid having to reschedule or miss an appointment. Missed appointments are challenges for dental practices and often incur a financial penalty.
Types of Dentists and Dental Services
Deciding on the specific type of care that you need can help you narrow down your search criteria and avoid the flood of information that doesn’t help you. Most of the time, if you are in need of a specialist, you will likely be referred by your General Dentist, but it is always a good idea to compare different options within your area.
If you are looking for routine care like an exam and x-rays, or establishing care with a provider for cleanings and oral health maintenance then you are looking for a General Dentist. This is the starting point for most people and the most common type of practice that is being searched out. Much like your family medical doctor, General Dentists take care of the vast majority of your routine care needs and will refer you to an appropriate specialist for more complex dental cases.
Much like the medical world, there are many types of specialists that deal with specific categories of care. Professionals like pediatric specialists have special training for children’s needs and Orthodontists that most of us recognize as providing braces and alignments. There are also specialists that many people are not familiar with. Periodontists deal with soft tissues and gum disease, Endodontists specialize in root canals, and Prosthodontists handle complex surgical procedures and implants to name just a few.
There are few things left in the world that aren’t subject to internet reviews and dentists are no exception. Reviews should be an important part of the criteria that you use when assessing different options. A few things to think about as you consider the reviews of individual practices that should be a factor in your decision making.
How to Find the Best Dentists Based on Reviews
- Pay attention to the total number of reviews that have been posted to arrive at an aggregate score. Some dental practices actively encourage patients to provide reviews, while others don’t. High numbers of reviews have more statistical meaning.
- If you are like most people, you tend to focus first on any negative reviews. I always take into account the nature of any negative review. Was it an issue of quality of care or something different.
- Focus on reviews that speak to quality of care issues or customer service as indicators of a quality practice.
- Negatives that speak to insurance billing issues might be beyond the practice’s control. Unfortunately, sometimes healthcare providers take a beating for the behavior of insurance companies.
- I discount negative reviews for wait times to get an appointment. The very best dentists often have busy schedules and wait times for new patients to get into their schedule rotation.
Choosing a Dental Relationship
One of the most overlooked, but important elements of looking for a new dentist, is the dentist themselves. Dentists are people too and they have a very wide range of personalities, interests and backgrounds. Dentistry at its best is more than a healthcare service, it is a relationship. Choosing a dentist that you are comfortable and connect with can go a long way in optimizing the communication and understanding, as well as, ensuring your comfort level during office visits.
Get To Know Your Dentist
The vast majority of dentists have profiles or biographic information on their websites that can tell you about who they are, both as people and practitioners. The dentist you pick is someone that you will see at least a couple of times per year and, optimally, will be a longterm member of your health team. If you find some common ground and someone that you generally like, it can really ease the anxiety and worry that so many of us feel upon going into the dental setting. If this sounds a little like dating, it’s because it is. You are choosing a healthcare partner not just a service. Relationships are built on trust and trust begins when we can relate to others.
Adheres to Rules and Regulations
How to Find Dentist that’s in Good Standing
This can be one of the most challenging areas for a new patient to assess. Dental practices don’t have one standard look and feel to them that make them easy to compare. Dental practices exist in medical buildings, shopping centers, historic houses in downtown areas, and standalone buildings. Some of the very best dentists run practices in any of these types of facilities. Any good dental practice should be safe, clean, and have good hygienic practices, but can come in many shapes and sizes.
A Dentist should be up to date, using good technology and equipment, and staying compliant with regulations.
It’s Okay to Ask Questions
As a prospective patient, you should be looking for a practice that looks and feels welcoming to you. Is that practice staying current with the developments and techniques of modern dentistry? It’s okay to ask questions about the equipment and technology in use in the practice. It’s okay to ask questions about how that office handles regulatory compliance and privacy issues (HIPAA and or OSHA).
The majority want to know that their dentist is staying abreast of new knowledge in their field and that they are excited about what they do, while striving to provide the best outcome for their patients. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Any top dentist will gladly answer your questions and discuss their practice with you. In my opinion the best dentists own their practice and it is their name that is on the line when it comes to quality outcomes for patients.
Need Help Finding a Good Dentist?
There are lots of factors and considerations in choosing the best dentist in your area for you or your family. For most of us this can be a daunting undertaking. Combing through reviews, locations, and doctor’s websites to gather the relevant information can be very time consuming and even a bit overwhelming.
It’s for this reason that we developed the DentalScout application to aid you in your search. We ask the important questions about type of care, location for service, and special considerations. You don’t have to enter in any personal information, just the basics of what you are looking for and where. We then provide you with the top tier dentists that meet your criteria.
Find Dentists near you!