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How to Find a Dentist

Diana Tosuni-O'Neill RDH, BS

For many people, how to find a dentist simply comes down to asking family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances or even neighbors. For some people, however, the process of searching for a new dentist is not an easy one and can actually take a while before a first appointment is finally made. A dentist is a personal choice, but a recommendation or referral is a very helpful resource.

The Internet as an Information Source

In addition to referrals, the Internet can provide a wealth of information that may help you in your search for a dentist. The following are some ideas for sources of information:

  • The dentist's website: See what services the dentist provides.
  • Locateadoc.com: Read recommendations by others.
  • American Dental Association (ADA): Find a dentist in your community and check a dentist's licensure/credentials.
  • Social networking communities, such as Facebook or Twitter: Consult public comments and ratings.
  • DentalReferral.com: Find information on dentists in your area.
  • Healthgrades.com: Research and compare dentists.
  • Insiderspages.com: Scroll through user reviews.
  • Yelp.com: Explore user reviews and recommendations.

Dentist's Biography

A dentist's biography lists the education and training that person has undergone. It may also share the year in which the person graduated and the number of years the person has been in practice. The biography will list specialties, board certification, awards, association memberships and foreign languages spoken. The person's investment in the community as a trusted professional will be exhibited by listed community service activities. The biography may also provide a glimpse into personal life matters, such as family members and hobbies. Finally, there could be some information about the dental team, specifically who they are, why they were chosen and what is their dedication to customer service. Some dentist's may list the team separately from their biography too.  A dentist's biography is rich in details that are instrumental in your efforts to find a practice that is a good fit.

Important Factors to Consider:  Location, Professional Services, Financing Options & Professionalism of the Dental Team

Multiple factors should be considered in your search for the perfect dental office. Location is an important variable since proximity of the dental office to work or home is often preferred. The types of procedures and services that the dentist offers are important. Also, are the treatment hours convenient for you and your family? Who will handle any emergencies that may arise? Financing is another obstacle that must be addressed. Does the office accept your insurance? If not, can a payment plan be rendered? Are the treatment and its attendant risks, alternatives, cost and benefits adequately explained? Fees and payment plans should be discussed prior to treatment being scheduled. A calm and inviting atmosphere is appealing as well. Is the office clean, neat and orderly? Are front desk personnel pleasant, informative and professionally attired? Do the dental staff wear gloves, goggles, face masks and other protective gear during patient treatment? Lastly, do all surfaces and equipment in the operatories appear sanitary and functional? These considerations can help take the guesswork out of finding a dentist.

Final Steps in Finding the Right Dentist

Make a list of candidates, and then e-mail them or actually call to get a feel for the dental practice. You may want to call or visit more than one dentist before making your decision. Inform the receptionist of the fact that you are looking for the right dental practice. Perhaps schedule a consultation with the dentist, before booking an appointment. This is a good way to get a firsthand impression of the dental office. Ask questions to get as detailed a description of the dentist and the practice as possible. Use this opportunity to see the dentist and his staff in a sincerely personal light. It is important that you be confident in the quality of care that your dentist and his staff can provide to you.

Dental care is a very personalized service that requires a good rapport between the dentist and the patient. A professional environment is also critical. There are plenty of caring, gentle dentists available who also have wonderful people skills. Of course, personality is a decisive factor in addition to technical skill. Your research into how to find a dentist can pay off with a successful patient-dentist relationship that may last for many years. When choosing a new dentist, you're making an important decision for you and your family's overall wellness!

Learn more about how to find a dentist in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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