1. Actively Listens to You
A good dentist wants to help you, but the best dentists use their listening skills as much as they use their technical skills. A great doctor takes the time to listen to your concerns, never rushes to leave treatment, and will work with you to alleviate anything that might make you feel uncomfortable, like if you have fears about dental work.
2. Educates You
Because you didn't go to dental school, you rely on your dentist to educate you on oral health, medical issues, good oral health habits, and treatment options for potential problems. An ideal dentist is happy to take the time to explain your options and work with you to enhance your confidence. This could range from teaching you proper brushing techniques to going over the step-by-step of a potential procedure you need.
3. Respects Your Time and Resources
Thoughtful dentists are punctual and consider your bottom line when suggesting treatment. They have a staff who calls or texts to remind you of an upcoming appointment and helps you schedule future appointments with enough time for you to plan.
4. Keeps a Clean Office
The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests checking to ensure your dentist's office is "clean, neat and orderly," and that all dental instruments are sterilized. If you notice things like old gloves and dirty instruments in the dental operatory, your dentist could be contaminating the examination room, which spreads germs and can make you and other patients sick.
5. Only Promotes What Is Necessary
Good dentists won't try to upsell you on products and treatments you don't absolutely need and that you didn't ask for before an examination. A good dentist will have a team who helps you figure out what your dental insurance could partially or fully cover for procedures or products they want you to have.
6. Gets to Know You
When your dentist takes the time to get to know you, they can provide better care options that work according to your medical history. They can also help you with underlying issues that could go undetected in a quick, impersonal visit. When your dentist greets you warmly and asks about your family or work, you may be thinking these are signs your dentist likes you. They're also just signs that you have a quality dentist who cares about you and wants you to be comfortable during your dental appointment.
7. Values a Long-Term Relationship
The best dentist invests in making you a long-term patient. This means following up when it's time for an appointment, scheduling regular screenings or X-rays, and making you and your family feel recognized when you're in the office. If your dentist treats your appointment like a one-time job, it might be time to look for another dentist.
8. Cares About Their Staff
If you work in an office, it's probably a funny concept to think of a dentist as a boss, managing staff. But even in medical and dental practices, there can be a hierarchy of staff. It's worth observing how your dentist interacts with coworkers because it gives you an idea of their management style and the mood among the team working with you. It's a good sign to see a dentist who has a caring and passionate team around them because it means they've done something right to attract top talent!
9. Follows Up With You
Some dental procedures can be long and arduous, leaving you feeling out of sorts for a few hours afterward. A great dentist will follow up with you after a long or complicated procedure to make sure you're improving as expected and that no complications hinder your recovery.
10. Values You as a Patient
The best dentists have a way of letting their patients know they care about them personally. Whether it's space they give you to ask questions, their thorough examination at dental checkups, or walking you through different options for a procedure you need, your dentist can show they value working with you in many ways.
Choosing a dentist isn't a decision to take lightly. They should see you as a patient for life, not once or twice. The best dentist always gives you the care that you and your family deserve. If you go through the above list and find that your dentist is missing several of these qualities, that may be a sign you have a bad dentist. But luckily, there are plenty of dentists to choose from! You can visit the American Dental Association's tool, ask friends and family who they trust, and do more research online for dentists in your area. What matters most is feeling confident that your dentist is a good fit for you and your family. You should feel comfortable going to them for regular checkups and any procedures or issues that arise. If your dentist exhibits the above characteristics, they can make your dental appointment a very positive experience and even have you looking forward to the next time you see them!