What to Ask a Dentist at Your First Appointment

Whether you are moving to a new town or just deciding to change oral care practitioners, your first visit to the new office is crucial and you may be wondering what to ask a dentist at your first meeting. When you schedule your appointment as a new patient, the office staff will probably tell you to arrive a few minutes early to complete the required paperwork. At this time, you may want to ask if the dentist will be available to talk with you for a few minutes at your appointment or if you need to schedule a consultation slot to have enough time for your questions.

Other than just getting a general feel of whether your new practitioner is a good fit with your family's needs, you will also want to ask about scheduling and how hard it is to get in for an appointment in case of an emergency. Some offices book months in advance, making it difficult to get in if you need to schedule a last minute cleaning or procedure. Other dentists leave a few slots open during the week to accommodate these kinds of visits.

When deciding what to ask a dentist, it is also important to find out whether your dentist has a colleague who provides backup in cases where the main doctor is sick or on vacation. There may be several dentists in the practice that rotate, so this is another important point to clear up if it is important to you to see the same person each time.

If you have young children, you will want to ask your dentist how he or she deals with pediatric appointments. Some offices have dental hygienists that specialize in working with young children, which can help alleviate that first-visit anxiety that is common. You might also inquire about any special things that the office does, such as flavored fluoride treatments and tooth polishes, as well as end-of-visit goody bags with stickers and the like.

While you are asking your questions, remember to take note of the overall chair-side manner of the dentist. If you feel rushed or like he or she is not listening to you or responding appropriately, you may want to consider continuing your search for the perfect oral care practitioner for your family.