How to Choose Your Dentist

Choosing a dentist is not a decision that should be made lightly. Oral health and hygiene is crucial to your overall health, which means a good dentist yields more than just a beautiful smile. But how do you know if a dentist is good? To help you avoid a stressful process of trail and error, observe the following practices to narrow the field down when choosing your dentist.

Start With “Where, When and What”

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!” You’ve probably heard that old phrase before, usually in relation to choosing a home. It’s just as applicable to the search for a dentist. You need to find one that is close enough for you to conveniently reach. Not only does this increase the likelihood that you will visit regularly, it also means that you’ll have an easier time reaching them in case of an emergency. Who wants to drive an hour with a throbbing tooth ache? Pick a dentist you can easily get to like astoria dental.

Next, WHEN ARE THEY OPEN? While most dental offices will be open from 9AM to 5PM, you can’t take that for granted. Besides, what if you’re working during that time yourself? There are many dentists open late to cater to just that sort of patient. Check each office’s hours for those that match your needs. Don’t think only of regularly scheduled visits, though. Research how the office deals with emergencies occurring outside of normal business hours.

Lastly, WHAT SERVICES DO THEY PROVIDE? Dental offices vary widely in their offerings. Some are focused on routine upkeep and prevention, and are only good for check-ups and cleanings. Others provide the full suite of services, from cosmetic whitening to emergency surgery. If you have children, you may want to find an office that specializes in meeting the unique requirements of handling young patients. If you have any special considerations, such as ongoing chronic care concerns, discuss them with the office beforehand to make sure they are able to meet your needs.

Finding the locations, operating hours, and services of dentists near you is as simple as doing a search online. However, you can also find advertisements for dentists in your local periodicals, and fairly comprehensive listings in the phone book.

Costs and Credentials

Once you’ve made a list of likely local options, your next most practical consideration is the types of payment they accept. If you have dental benefits as a part of your health insurance, you’ll want to confirm that an office accepts your coverage. Likewise, determine what methods of payment are accepted, and find out how much routine services — like cleanings or fillings — cost. This information is often on the office’s website, but you can always call and ask.

As for credentials, check to see if your dentist is a member of the American Dental Association. You can find members using their handy search tool [] . The ADA is a reputable body whose members commit to following a code of ethical conduct and best practices. You can be sure that members are dentistry school graduates with all the proper training. However, dentists aren’t obliged to join, and non-members are not automatically worse. Find out if the school from which they graduated is reputable, and if they have a good reputation with past patients.

Family, Friends, and Feelings

Perhaps the best way to choose your dentist is to solicit recommendations from your friends and family. Not only will they already know most of the information above and be able to relay it to you, they will also have insight into the personality of the dentist, the hygienists, and the staff. Someone close to you will have an idea of how you specifically might feel about anything from the type of jokes the dentist tells to the decor of the examination room. Make sure to ask around among those whose opinions you trust.

All the steps above maximize the chances that you won’t waste your time taking long trips to unqualified candidates. Each option on your short list is sure to be convenient to you and able to provide the services you need, with the best reputations, and maybe even the recommendation of your closest friends. Yet the only way to know how you feel — if you’re comfortable with the people and the place — is to go there in person and give them a chance. Talk to the staff and discuss your needs with the dentist. Pick someone who puts you at ease, who is professional, and that you feel you can trust.