How to Find a Dentist in Your Area

When you are figuring out how to find a dentist for your family, the options can initially seem overwhelming. However, if you keep in mind your family's particular needs, you can find the right dentist in no time.

Where to Start

You can always just open up the yellow pages and start calling listed dentists to see who is accepting new patients. However, if you take this approach, you are taking your chances on the quality of the care provider. A better and still quick way to find a dentist is to check your insurance company's website for in-network providers.

Many people also turn to family members and friends for recommendations. Keep in mind that people tend to have fairly strong reactions—either positive or negative—to healthcare providers and are usually loyal to their own dentists. Keep in mind that the dentist your neighbor raves about may not be taking new patients. It's a good idea to put a few on your list, so you have backups if your first choice doesn't come through. You can also consider doing an internet search on dentists in your area. Many dentists do have their own websites that you can review and see what type of services they provide to the public and the dental team that works with them.

Narrowing it Down

Once you have your list of dentists, start calling their offices and ask some questions. Consider your family's needs. Do you have young children and need a practitioner who specializes in pediatrics? (Learn more about caring for your children's teeth at the Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource center.) Ask how easy it is to get an appointment, both for regular check-ups and emergency visits. After your phone call, note how you feel. Is the office staff friendly, or do they make you feel like you are bothering them?

After you narrow down your list to two or three choices, go ahead and make an appointment. Pay attention to the chairside manner of the dentist. Does he or she listen actively, paying attention to your questions and concerns? How you feel when you walk out of the office is a big indicator of how good of a fit a particular dentist is with you and your family.

Finally, if you start seeing a dentist and find that the office or care provider is not what you need, don't be afraid to change to a different practice. Keep trying out dentists until you find your perfect fit.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.