Today I’m sharing advice for “shopping” for a new dentist. Ask these 6 important questions before you choose a dentist, and you’ll be setting yourself up for a more peaceful feeling about your appointment as the day approaches.
We dentists understand. Going to the dentist is a task that most people avoid. They make all kinds of excuses. The appointment times take too long. Or another classic excuse. It’s too far to drive in the middle of the workday.
It’s ok. It doesn’t hurt our feelings too much. We know that the root cause of your anxiety isn’t seeing our smiling faces. It’s the fear of what could happen at your appointment
This fear is exacerbated for those who haven’t been to the dentist in a long time. In fact, perhaps they haven’t been for a dental exam because of this fear in so long that they don’t even have a dentist!
If this is starting to sound creepily like yourself, you need to find a dentist. And the sooner, the better! As you are starting your research for a dentist, here are some things to investigate.
Ask These 6 Important Questions Before You Choose A Dentist:
Is the dentist board-certified?
A “board-certified” dentist is one who has completed competency exams and proven to the American Board of Dental Specialties that she is a master of her subject matter. She will have taken extensive practical, oral, and written examinations to demonstrate to the board that she is more than qualified to practice dentistry.
This is an important question because not all dentists are board-certified. Those who are, however, have received two additional years of training that makes them a cut above the rest.
Knowing that your dentist is one of these elite practitioners will help to alleviate those jitters.
Does the practice have convenient appointment times?
Many practices today have extended hours one or two evenings a week. Others offer Saturday morning hours.
Remember those two popular excuses I summarized at the beginning of the article? Convenient appointment times eliminate those reasons for skipping your dental exam.
Convenient appointment times not only help you make the appointment; you’ll be more likely to keep it.
Does the dentist offer emergency visits?
There’s nothing scarier than an unexpected need for a dentist. Inevitably, it’s a result of a sudden severe infection or an injury. But it’s like flood insurance…it’s unlikely you’ll need it, but when the waters rise, you’re glad you have it.
Dental pain can be excruciating and the sooner you have it tended to, the better.
Believe it or not, all dentists don’t have after-hours availability. In most cases where there is emergency care available, a group of dental professionals will collaborate so that one dentist is “on-call.” This is great information to know as you are selecting your dentist.
Does the dental practice accept your insurance?
A very important factor for most is whether the dentist under consideration accepts your dental insurance. Most practices have a coordinator who can help you check this out. Don’t do this at the first appointment. Do it in advance to ensure your visit will be covered.
How are you greeted by the front office staff?
Your first impression will probably be of the front office staff, not of the dentist himself. Because you have already admitted that you fear dental exams, you could be a bundle of nerves. Knowing that the people who greet you, check you in, and collect your paperwork are friendly and caring can really calm frazzled nerves.
Pay an unexpected visit before you book your appointment and see for yourself what these people are like.
What scope of services does the dentist provide?
All dentists have a broad range of knowledge and competency, and some dentists are known for very specific specialties.
For your family dentist, select one who can go above and beyond the 6-month exam and tooth cleaning. You will be more comfortable with seeing your own dentist for possible issues like fillings, crowns, and extractions. The more care you can receive from your own dentist, the less worried you’ll be!
In summary, finding the right dentist is an important step. Once you find one who you are the most comfortable with, it will take some of the fear out of facing the dentist.
Dr. Holly Gregory is a dentist and Texas native. She lives and practices in Humble and loves being active in her community. When she’s not working, you’ll find Dr. Gregory spending time with her family and friends.