How to Choose a Dental Professional
Choosing the right dentist for regular and long term care is very much like finding the right family doctor. Both the dentist and the doctor are integral to the maintenance of our general health, and having the right two practitioners in our corner, can see us fit, able, and chewing, for a long time to come.
While many of us attach urgency to finding a doctor when changes in their life make it necessary to do so, too often we leave it until we can’t stand the pain or discomfort of a dental emergency any longer before searching for a new dentist. However, it’s not fair to your dentist, or to you, to turn to them only when the cards are on the table, and the chips are down.
Why it’s essential to find the right dentist
Regular dental care, by the right dentist, can help alleviate a lot of pain and suffering – and that’s not only in the mouth. As the gateway to the body, the mouth holds one of the most important keys to our overall health and wellbeing. Failing to care for the gums and teeth can lead to this entrance portal becoming defiled, and you can pay for this in serious illness as well as excruciating toothache or highly sensitive gums. Links have been made to strokes, heart disease and diabetes.
Every time your dentist examines your teeth, he or she is possibly preventing some serious damage to your body, as well as to your teeth and gums, and at the same time is taking care that you keep on smiling sweetly for a very long time.
So, how do you choose the right dentist? It’s a question of finding your perfect match, like it is with any other professional relationship. You will need to take into account several factors regarding yourself, your needs, and the dentist you are considering.
Accessibility and Location
If you can’t tick this one off the list, your match could be made, not in heaven, but at least part of the way down the road to hell. If you can’t get an emergency appointment when you need one, or have to struggle to get to the dental practice for a regular check-up, you will suffer consequences.
These could involve extreme pain in the first instance, with later health issues possible; and in delayed and missed check-ups because of the inconvenience and expense involved in travelling long distances, in the second situation. Avoiding check-ups could, in turn, result in emergency treatment down the line. It can become a vicious circle.
Of course, if you feel that the dentist is a perfect fit with regards to everything else, you may feel any accessibility problems don’t tip the scales.
Meeting your needs
Think about what kinds of dentistry you’re likely to require in the medium to long term. Are you someone who has “problem” teeth caused by genetics, poor oral hygiene or an unhealthy lifestyle and diet? Or, are you, perhaps, someone who feels inadequate in the smile department? You may then be looking for a smile makeover, bridges, implants or other cosmetic dentistry down the line.
If you have small children, you need to feel comfortable that the dentist you choose has a pleasant manner, as well as experience in treating young patients.
Of course, you can pick one dentist for normal maintenance work, while going elsewhere for cosmetic dentistry. Just take into account that when, and if, you have more complex dental work done elsewhere, you may miss the familiarity and trust that’s developed between you and your regular dentist over a period of time.
Experience and references
Getting practical, draw up a shortlist of possible dental candidates. If you’re new in town, ask your neighbours or colleagues about which dentist they recommend. You can also check online and read any reviews available.
Visit their websites such as Redtree Dental. These can fill you in on the dentist’s qualifications, which should be either Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM). Look for an indication of the sorts of dental services each dentist performs. That way you can get a grasp on whether or not your particular needs will be met. Sites also usually indicate the hours when emergency treatment is available.
The X Factor
Only you will be able to determine whether or not a prospective dentist has that special something. Does the dentist make you feel comfortable? Do you feel you can trust him or her with your oral health, and that of your children?
One way to check whether the answers are “Yeah” or “Nay”, is to visit the practice, speak to the front staff and look at the patients waiting to see the dentist. The courtesy of the staff, the expressions of the patients, and the atmosphere in the waiting room, can give you a good indication of both the practice and the dentist. It’s not a question of décor here, it’s about how you will feel when you visit that dentist.
The financial factor
Being sensible for a moment, it is always a good thing to check whether your insurance is accepted, and whether the rates are in line with those of the practice. If possible, also compare rates with those charged by other dentists in the area.
If money’s a problem, it’s worth discussing payment options. You don’t want to end up grinding your newly-repaired teeth at night, because of stress caused by payment worries.
How it all adds up in the long term
Choosing the right dentist to keep you and your family smiling for a long time, is far more than a straight business arrangement. You (and your teeth) need to feel totally comfortable with the dentist you choose.