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Looking for a New Dentist



Not everyone enjoys going to the dentist, and some people even have phobias about it (dentophobia). I was lucky; the dentist I grew up visiting was wonderful, kind, caring, and focused on helping me keep my pearly whites healthy. He also had a great “chair-side” manner, so I was always put at ease when going to the dental office. Thankfully, my parents thought that dental hygiene and oral care were important, so they made it a priority for me to see the dentist for regular check-ups, cleaning, etc. Besides being blessed with good genetics and healthy smile-esteem, I’ve made dental care a priority in my family just like my parents did.

Finding that Perfect Dentist

When moving to a new community, as I did five years ago, leaving a trusted dentist can cause a bit of angst. Since finding a dentist can seem a bit intimidating, especially in a town where you are still trying to maneuver your way around and make new acquaintances, I’d like to share a few ideas that might make finding a reputable dentist in your area less stressful.

Steps to Take

First, since it’s essential to be able to afford the expense of a dentist, be sure to check with your insurance company. Of course, this is assuming you are insured; if you’re not, other factors come into play. However, if you are guaranteed, it’s essential to note that most dental plans cover standard preventative care like 6-month check-ups, cleaning, and yearly films (typically known as x-rays). It’s also important to know whether or not your insurance carrier requires you to see a dentist in their “network” or from a specific provider list. This is extremely common, and though occasionally can be a nuisance, it should not be a deterrent to finding quality care in your area. So, once you’ve found out which providers are in your network, you can begin to narrow your search.

Don’t Underestimate Word of Mouth

Once you’ve taken this step, it’s also a good idea to ask your trusted friends or family members if they have any recommendations (if they live locally, that is). I would especially recommend that you ask for a professional referral from the dentist you are leaving due to your relocation. And if you dare to bring it up on the school playground or at the office, there are plenty of means to find personal recommendations!

If you cannot find people to ask for personal recommendations, there are great sites available to you, that offer members reviews and ratings for professional services like dentistry. Your state’s Board of Dentistry (ADA) and the American Dental Association websites will also provide help in finding a dentist near you and are excellent resources that I recommend.

When asking about the recommendations be sure to ask some fundamental questions such as “what makes you recommend them?”, “what made you like or dislike them?” Most people are happy to share their positive and negative experiences with you. I have found it to be helpful to first look at my provider list and then match up any of the personal recommendations with that list before proceeding further. I have also learned that quality does not always mean convenience. To have the most excellent care for your family, the dentist a few blocks away may not fit the bill, so take into consideration your “wish list” when searching.

Secondly, once you’ve narrowed down your list of names, take it a step further. Do some research into that dental practice. Use online sites like mentioned above (ADA) or your particular state’s Board of Dentistry, to discover whether or not the dentist is currently licensed to practice, whether or not his or her practice has had significant complaints filed against them and so forth.

Making Your First Appointment

Finally, after calling ahead for a consultative appointment, visit the dental offices you’re considering. Ask for a tour of the facility, note how the office is run, how it feels (cleanliness/sanitary practices), whether or not the staff is friendly and courteous, making you feel welcome rather than hurried and undervalued. Come prepared with a few key questions. Read their brochures if they have them, often they can give you a little insight into the overall facility based on how it’s written and any quotes provided by the dentist or patients themselves. Granted, its advertisement meant to garner business, but it is still one small tool you can use to ascertain whether a dentist is right for you and your family.

Finally, schedule a visit for a new patient exam, cleaning, etc. When you’re actually in the chair receiving work done, you’ll know for sure whether or not you’ve chosen the best dentist possible. If you come away from the visit with not only clean teeth, but with a smile of satisfaction, you will have succeeded in finding your next family dentist!