There are over 201,927 dentists in the U.S, which means patients have plenty of options to choose from.
Finding the right dentist is essential for protecting your oral health and improving your quality of life. But if you’re not sure what sets each one apart, it’s difficult knowing what to look out for. Maybe that’s why you’re here; you’re searching for a new dentist and aren’t sure what qualities to consider.
Sounds like you? No worries; we’ve got your back. Here are seven factors to consider when choosing a dentist.
1. Location and Opening Hours
When comparing dentist options, you must factor in the office’s location and opening hours. As a general rule, the closer the dentist is to your home, the better; otherwise, you could spend hours commuting. Or, if there aren’t many options, choose one close to your office, so it’s easily accessible.
You should also check out the office’s opening hours, especially if you have a busy schedule. Don’t worry if you can only find nine-to-five offices; simply keep looking because there are practices that work out of hours. For instance, a reputable company like the Ivanhoe Dental Group caters to a huge range of patients while offering premium-quality care.
Further, ask the dental office the average time patients have to wait. You don’t want to spend hours in the waiting room because the dentist has been overbooked. Also, you should consider the clinic’s cleanliness and atmosphere for peace of mind.
2. Experience and Qualifications
Another important consideration is the dentist’s experience and qualifications, as it determines the quality of dental care. Make sure you ask the new dentist how long they’ve been in practice and the school they’ve graduated from. But don’t be disheartened if the candidate has recently left education because they could still offer a great service.
Further, spend time checking out their qualifications. At the very least, the dentist should have completed four years of school and, if you’re after specific treatment, a relevant specialty. If you have little time, research before meeting each dentist in person.
You should also check whether the dentist is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA). This proves that they know the latest advancements in dentistry and continue to offer stellar service.
Before arranging a meeting at the dental office, consider the professional’s referrals. Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist whether they know a suitable dentist because they’ll give you medically sound advice. You should also reach out to family and friends for recommendations.
Once you’ve narrowed the list, read online reviews for each dentist to learn more about their experience. If there is a stream of negative feedback, that’s a major red flag, and you must continue your search.
Further, don’t be embarrassed to ask for before and after photos. Most reputable dentists have a gallery for each treatment, so prospective patients can evaluate their work. But if a dentist is sheepish or is reluctant to share photos, continue your search because it could put your oral health at risk.
It’s also important that the dentist and staff wear gloves and protective gear when handling patients as it stops the spread of germs.
4. Services Offered
Each dentist’s office offers a unique set of services, whether you’re after an orthodontist to fix your retainer or a pedodontist for your little one.
But if you want to use the same dentist for an extended period, find a general dentist because it’s easier. Again, meet the healthcare professional in person to discuss your desired treatment so they can answer your questions.
Also, it’s important to note that you should choose dentists who conduct a majority of their procedures inside the office. If not, you could constantly be referred out, which will waste your time and money.
5. Your Insurance
Not everyone has the luxury of paying out-of-pocket, so factor in your insurance coverage during your search. Figure out whether the dentist accepts a range of health insurance as it will save you a fortune in bills. If you’re unsure, discuss your current dental plan and continue looking if your dentist doesn’t allow it.
6. Dental Technology in Place
At the very least, you want a dentist who has quality equipment as it shows they’re passionate about protecting their patients’ teeth.
Although offices with cutting-edge technology often charge more, you have peace of mind knowing you’re accessing the best care in the industry. If you can’t find the answers online, visit the clinic in person to see what equipment they have.
Further, your comfort is another huge consideration. You may have a dental phobia or want to feel safe when visiting the office, so listen to your gut. If the staff is disgruntled or the dentist is overly stern, you should find another clinic that eases your anxiety instead.
7. How They Handle Emergencies
You never know when you’ll suffer a dental emergency, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Find out whether the dental office offers an out-of-hours service or will refer you to another clinic that does. For instance, many dentists give patients flexible or weekend appointments in an emergency, which can be a lifesaver if you’re in pain.
Top Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dentist
Hopefully, you’ll use these factors when choosing a dentist and find one that aligns with your needs.
There are many considerations to take on board, such as the dentist’s qualifications and the office’s location. Prospective patients should also factor in the dental technology available and whether the practice handles dental emergencies too. Good luck with your search!
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