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What to Look for in a Dental Practice

Photo by Hike Shaw on Unsplash

Are you looking for a dental practice but don’t know how to choose the right one?  We have the tips you need to help you confidently pick the best dental practice for you and your family so that you can get the quality oral care you deserve.

Office Accessibility and Availability
Having a dental practice close to home or work can make it easier to visit and arrive on time; however, it is not unusual to choose your dental office based upon how you feel while you are there rather than its geographic location.  Suitable availability and the willingness of the office to combine multiple treatments into one appointment if needed, can make for easier appointment scheduling no matter the location of the office in relation to your home. Evening hours and weekend hours may benefit those whose who work during the weekdays.

Dentist Qualifications
Your dental office will be able to list the qualifications and training of the dentist and staff.  Office policies regarding appointment scheduling, insurance and billing may be found on the website and by speaking to a staff member by phone.  Additional resources for finding information about a dentist can be found through the American Dental Society and the local and state dental societies.

Personal Preferences
Building a relationship with your dentist can help you feel more comfortable and confident in the dental office.  Being able to explain your symptoms and knowing that your dentist understands your needs will be beneficial for you and your family.

Your dentist should communicate openly with you regarding procedures, treatment or what the consequences would be if no treatment at all is performed.  Ideally, your dentist should be able to calm your fears and anxieties during your visit.  Open discussion about various ways to treat dental conditions should be an integral part of the appointment.  There are usually several alternate ways to manage a given dental situation and a time for questions should always be a part of the consultation.  Having a dentist, hygienist and staff that is non judgmental is paramount to you and your family’s comfort.

Family, friends, neighbors and coworkers can tell you what they like about their dentist and give you an honest referral.  Online reviews may provide a glimpse of what current patients of any given dental office either like or dislike about the practice.   Other sources for referrals include professional associations, such as the American Dental Association and your state or local dental societies.

Most dental professionals offer consultations, so after the research a personal meeting with the dentist and a look at the office may help to make the decision easier.

Evaluations after the Appointment
A single appointment doesn’t obligate you to commit to the dental practice.  During your visit, make sure that you take the time to evaluate the aspects of your visit that are important.  Is the waiting room comfortable even though you hope you aren’t waiting too long?  Cleanliness, professionalism and courtesy from all staff members can vary between offices.  Is the staff friendly, knowledgeable, discreet and non-judgmental?

The dentist should be able to either provide you with the service you need or be able to refer you to a dental specialist, either in the building or proximate to the office.  You should feel comfortable and clear about what has been identified about your dental health, what treatment is being suggested, what the alternatives to this treatment are, what could result if no treatment at all is performed.

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