Whether you just moved to a new area, have a toothache that’s driving you crazy, or simply haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you must know how to find a good dentist.
That’s because finding the right dentist will make you feel comfortable, develop a plan that works for your teeth and your budget, and will ensure that treatment is effective and pain-free. So when you’re looking for a new dentist in your area, start by asking these 17 critical questions.
1. What Are Your Qualifications and Certifications?
This is one of the first things you should ask when you are looking for a dentist so that you can make sure they have plenty of training and experience. You can often find this information on a dentist’s website including their education, certifications, training, and more.
It would help if you also asked about the dentist’s continuing education routine to make sure they are up-to-date on the best American Dental Association (ADA) practices and procedures.
2. What Does Your Dental Office Specialize In?
While many dental offices offer a wide range of general dentistry services, others offer more specialized services. To find a great dentist for you and your family, it is a good idea to look for a dentist you can trust that specializes in the type of dentistry that you need.
For example, some dentists specialize in cosmetic dentistry that will help you improve the appearance of your smile as well as the function of the teeth. Cosmetic dentists offer services like teeth whitening, dental veneers, and aesthetic dental implants.
However, if you have dental problems that require immediate dental care, then an emergency dentist is probably a better option. Other possible options include gum specialists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists.
3. Do You Accept My Dental Insurance?
There’s nothing worse than finding a new dentist just to find out that they don’t accept your insurance (except going to your new patient appointment and getting a bill for the total cost of treatment). That is why this should be one of the first things you ask the dentist.
You can often find this information on their website, but you can also call the dental office or your insurance provider to double-check.
4. I Have No Dental Insurance, Do You Offer Dental Payment Plans or Financing?
If you don’t have dental health insurance, then you should always ask about their payment plans or other financing options. Dental care can be expensive, but many dentists will work with your budget to ensure that you can walk away with a healthier smile and better oral health.
5. Does Your Dental Practice Offer Any New Patient Specials?
Some dentists offer discounts and specials to attract new patients. Since you are looking for a new dentist anyway, you might as well take this into consideration. That way, you can find a new dentist while saving a little money too! Always ask if the dentist has any new patient specials.
6. What Are Your Hours Of Operation?
What happens if you find a dentist that is only open while you are working or attending school? You probably wouldn’t visit as often as you should. Make sure that the hours of operation work for you and your schedule.
7. How Do You Handle Fears and Dental Anxiety During Procedures?
According to research, as many as 50% to 80% of American adults experience dental anxiety. Additionally, fear of dental care can contribute to missed appointments and resistance to treatment. Ask your prospective dentists how they can make sure you are calm, comfortable, and worry-free during visits.
8. Is Sedation Dentistry Available For Anxious Patients?
Some patients won’t agree to oral health procedures without sedation because of panic attacks, phobias, and overwhelming anxiety. If this is an important option for you, make sure you ask what type of sedation dentistry options are available.
9. How Often Do You Recommend Check-ups and Cleanings?
While this may not seem as important as some of the other questions when you are wondering how to choose a dentist, knowing how often you will be expected to visit should be taken into consideration. The American Dental Association encourages regular dental visits as part of a good home oral health routine. Many dentists recommend twice-yearly check-ups and cleanings. However, if you are experiencing certain dental problems, the frequency could be higher.
10. Are You Accepting New Patients?
If you are wondering how to find a good dentist, then you probably want to go to a dentist accepting new patients right away. While there are many factors to consider when searching for a new “dentist near me”, it’s important to find one that’s available.
11. Are You Available For Emergency Appointments and Emergency Dental Services?
In the case of a dental emergency, it can be distressing to discover that you have to visit a completely new dentist and staff instead of your regular dental office. That’s why it’s important to find out if they offer emergency dental appointments and also ask about their procedures and rules for these types of situations. Not all dentists offer emergency services for things like a knocked out or cracked tooth, severe toothaches, or a serious gum or tooth infection. It is a good idea to prepare for the worst by asking your potential dentist if they offer these types of emergency dental services.
12. Can I Schedule A Meet and Greet?
Sometimes all the research in the world isn’t enough to decide if a dentist you like is truly the best fit for you. Being able to meet your dentist and their technicians, assistants, and other employees can tell you a lot about their professionalism, personality, and whether you are comfortable in the office.
13. What To Expect At My First Appointment?
A first appointment with a dentist can be stressful, so ask about it. This tells you a lot about how dentist works and how they develop rapport and a treatment plan with their newest patients.
14. Are You Up To Date With The Latest Dental Technologies and Techniques?
Dental technology and techniques are always progressing, which is why it’s so important when you’re looking for a new dentist to find one that participates in continuing education courses, researches new dental care methods, and stays in the know when it comes to innovative dental technology.
15. What Is Your Sterilization and Infection Control Protocol?
The CDC offers recommendations for dental practice sterilization and infection prevention. In your search for a good dentist, it’s great to ask about their protocol so you can protect not only your oral health but your overall well-being.
A dentist should be able to tell you what they do to lower the risk of infection and reduce the likelihood of bacterial or viral transfer. This includes everything from wearing masks and washing hands, to sterilizing equipment and using safe injection practices.
16. What Is Your Cancellation and Rescheduling Policy?
Sometimes life gets in the way of scheduled appointments, but the consequences of that happening can vary greatly from one dentist to the next.
While it’s important for patients to maintain appointments because it helps the dental office run smoothly, you may want to avoid dental practices that offer severe penalties for canceled appointments. This is especially true if the cancellation policy includes consequences beyond 24 or 48 hours from the appointment time.
17. What Other Should You Consider When Wondering How To Find A Good Dentist?
While the above critical questions will help you find a new dentist, there are a few other considerations that may help you decide between the remaining dentists after you narrow down your list of prospects.
First, ask yourself, “is the dentist near me?” You want to find a dentist that is close to your home or work so that you can easily go for both regular appointments or emergency visits. Another aspect of accessibility is the dentist’s parking situation. Is it easy to park there and do they offer free parking?
Second, see how easy it is to schedule an appointment. You may even want to find a dentist that offers convenient online booking. When taking this into account, you may also want to see how hard it is to create a new appointment in a time slot that works for you.
Finally, check online reviews and testimonials to see what other patients say about their experience. While you shouldn’t put too much faith in one or two completely positive or negative reviews, a lot of times you can see a pattern that will help you learn more about the dentist from the perspective of a patient.
Make an Informed Decision When Searching For A New Dentist
Finding a dentist is easy, but finding the best dentist for your needs will take a little more research. Make sure you ask all the important questions so that you find a dentist that you can stay with long-term. Building a relationship with a dentist so that they understand you, your mouth, and your goals is an essential factor for effective dental treatment.
If you are looking for a restorative or cosmetic dentist in Nolensville, TN, or the surrounding areas that can help you perfect your smile, request an appointment with Dr. Tiffanie Garrison-Jeter and be ready to ask her your important questions now that you know how to find a good dentist.