Picking the Right Dentist for Me A How-to Guide


It is not a secret that many people do not like going to the dentist. You may be one of those people and perhaps, avoid the dentist altogether, which is not the best idea. However, there are many benefits to visiting a dentist on a regular basis. Even though you may know that you should go to the dentist, your fear and discomfort keep you away. However, if you follow the steps in this how to guide, you will see that it is possible to find a dentist with whom you are comfortable and make it a more pleasant experience.

Get Referrals

While selecting a dentist is a personal choice, and there are services that you need from a dentist that someone else may not need, referrals are a great way to find out about local dentists. Reach out to people that you trust, such as friends and family, to find out who they have as their dentist. You want to ask them questions about the dentist and what they like or do not like about the dentist. You can create a list of names based on what information you are given. Make notes of the important details that you are given. This list can give you a starting point for researching possible dentist options. You are looking for a provider that helps keep your oral health in top shape. A dentist will check your mouth, gums, and teeth to ensure they are healthy and reduce dental disease risk. While these are the basic services you need, there may be others that are important to you. When compiling a list of dentists, you may also want to list any specialties the dentist offers.

Consider Your Needs and Preferences

If you are in need of a great dentist, you want to understand your own needs. Are you looking for a dentist for just you or for your entire family? Are you interested in a dentist that is focused on a regular check up and basic dental care? When it comes to dental care services, all dentists offer those basic services, but if you want something more from your dentist, you need to look for someone that specializes in those services. For example, if you are interested in a dentist for cosmetic purposes to improve the way your teeth look, that is a bit more specialized, and not every dentist is going to provide that for you.

If you want a provider that will care for all of your children’s needs, including the potential for braces, you want to make sure that the dentist office you select has an orthodontist on staff or works closely with one. You want to consider additional needs that your children may have, especially if visiting a dentist is a new experience for them. Finally, you want to make sure you select an environment where they are comfortable. Depending on the exact need, you may have to find a separate dentist for your children, one that specializes in pediatric dentistry.

Another point of consideration is dental impacts. If this is something you have, need, or may consider in the future, this requires a provider that performs surgery and extensive procedures. You may also consider dental rehabilitation. This process restores your teeth back to their best condition. However, it often requires multiple procedures for this to occur. Knowing the answer to these questions can help you narrow down your list of potential dentists.

Functional Dentistry

Are you interested in a little more from your dentist than just mouth care? Functional dentistry is focused on treating the entire person and not just their dental problems. Obviously, dental health plays the primary role in functional dentistry, but it is about how dental health is coupled with overall health. Along with dental cleanings and checkups, this type of dentistry includes education. The dentist will talk to you about care for your teeth and your body between visits. Suggestions your dentist may provide includes changing to a healthy diet, less sugar, and making dietary and lifestyle changes. This style of dentistry is not for everyone. You must understand what procedures and practices a dentist follows before you begin your care. For example, there are dentists focused on care that does not contain mercury or holistic dentistry. You should make sure this process appeals to you before you decide to move forward with that type of dentist.
Understand Services Offered

There are specialists that offer specific dental care. You may need a particular type of dentist. An orthodontist is one that focuses on aligning your teeth. These specialists work with braces and other types of equipment. A periodontist specializes in treating and preventing gum disease. If you have gum disease, you may want to look for this type of dentist. A prosthodontist is a type of dentist that specializes in the replacement of missing or broken teeth. An endodontist specializes in root canals and caring for them for a certain period of time after the surgery. Finally, an oral surgeon deals with a procedure that includes deep sedation. This specialist handles jaw correction surgery, complicated tooth removal, and other oral surgeries.

Urgent Care

There is nothing worse than an emergency and not being able to find treatment for your dental issue. If there is not urgent care, you could have to deal with a terrible pain or perhaps a missing tooth until your dental office opens. When you are looking for a great dentist, you want to have an understanding of the urgent care they provide. Critical questions to ask are what does the dentist do in an emergency situation? You want to find out their response time, if they have emergency hours, and how to contact them. Next, you should determine if the dentist works with an urgent care center. This may not seem like a big deal if you have never had a dental emergency, but you never know. It is ideal to understand how the dentists operate, so you will know what to expect. Does the dentist over medical imaging service options? If you are having significant mouth or tooth pain, you may need some type of imagining to determine the cause.

Insurance Concerns

If you have insurance, it is essential that you verify that any dentist you are considering takes your insurance. It is not enough to make sure the dentist takes your insurance; it is also important to find out what your insurance plan will cover. This understanding helps you determine what is covered and what your out of pocket costs may be. Your insurance plan may dictate the dentist you select. If you have a HMO, there is a significantly limited set of options available to you. Cigna insurance and others may also want you to select from a specific list. You can always choose not to select a dentist that is covered by your insurance, but that means you will pay for all costs. Often, you can get dental and vision care insurance bundled together. If you go with a dentist that accepts your insurance, you want to make sure that you can receive an estimate of your costs before you agree to any service. This way, there are no surprises for you.

Research Credentials

One of the important factors for you to consider when choosing a dentist is their credentials. The dentist’s credentials are the best way for you to determine that the dentist has all the training, skills, and experience needed to provide you the healthcare you need. You also want to make sure that any dentist you are considering does not have a history of medical malpractice. Finally, you want to determine if the dentist has had any disciplinary actions taken against them. You can determine the medical school they attended, where they trained, and any certifications they have.

You want to determine what type of experience any potential dentist has. This is an area where it is critical that your dentist has plenty of knowledge and experience when completing complex procedures or dealing with the conditions you face. When you find someone with a maximum amount of experience, you are more likely to be happy with the results.

The Ability for Telehealth Services

We have moved into a world where you are handling more business and doctor appointments via video or phone. While this has a fair amount of challenges, it has opened up a new world of accessibility to doctors, dentists, and businesses. There are some problems that a dentist can diagnose over two way video technology, allowing you to stay home. This technology should not replace in person visits, but it can limit the number of times you have to go to the office. When you are not feeling well or have limited mobility, this can be incredibly helpful. Sometimes, you may be away from home when something goes wrong. It is a nice perk to be able to have a video conference with your dentist, no matter where you are. This may allow you to resolve the issue without having to come home. Telehealth services may be something that your dentist offers, but your insurance does not cover. It is important to make sure both options are available to you.

Consultation and Accessibility

When you have used all the criteria above to narrow down your choices, you should come up with a top two, maybe three, dentists of interest. You want to review their websites and see what you can find out about them that way. Next, you can contact the office and ask for a consultation. This allows you to check out the dentist, the office, and the office staff. You do not want a dental office with nasty office staff. You can talk with the dentist and interview them to fill in all the blanks you do not already know. A dental consultation gives you an opportunity to meet the dentist in person and get a feel for who they are. You can assess how easy it is to get an appointment and are their hours convenient for you. You can find a great dentist, but if you can never get an appointment, then it probably is not great for you.

Communication Style

When you meet with the dentist, you can get a feel for their communication style. When you ask questions, see how they respond. This early interaction will give you a good idea of what interaction will be like in the future. Does the dentist seem to rush through meeting with you? Does it seem like they are not interested in you or your questions? These can all foreshadow potential problem areas in the future. You want a dentist that is going to take the time to explain what is happening with your dental care and ensure that you understand. You want to make sure that the dentist is going to trust your decisions and the way you process them. If the dentist seems to talk down to you in an introductory meeting, it probably will not get better from there. If it does not feel right when you meet with the dentist, you might want to move on to the next person on your list.


While this may not help reduce your fear about going to the dentist, it should help make the selection process easier. If you find out all the information you can upfront about the dentist, and you know what you want, it helps make the process much smoother. In addition, this will help you feel better about your dentist selection. When you feel good about your dentist, it helps improve the fear and anxiety you feel before a visit. While they may seem small, taking these steps is a great way to set yourself up for a positive dental experience.

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