5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dentist

Staff WriterLast Updated Jun 24, 2020 6:47:59 PM ET
Woman having teeth examined by a dentist CC0/rgerber/Pixabay

Whether you need a basic checkup or major oral surgery, it's important to choose a dentist who takes good care of you and makes you feel comfortable. But beyond flipping through listings in a directory and making a few phone calls to chat with office staff, what should you consider to make sure you're choosing the right dentist? These tips can help make your decision a little easier and lead you to the right professional for your oral health needs.

What Type of Dental Work You Need

The first thing you need to consider is why you’re going to the dentist. If you’re just looking for general dental care, such as checkups and regular cleanings, you have many options. However, if you need cosmetic or restorative work or a specialist, such as an orthodontist, you need to dig a little deeper. It’s important to make sure the professional you choose offers the services you need. For example, some new services may only be available in select offices for a period of time. Make sure the dentist you choose offers the procedures you need before making an appointment.

How Much They Charge

The cost of dental work adds up quickly, and it’s important to make sure you can afford a professional’s services before making your decision. First, if you have dental insurance, make sure the dentist you choose accepts it. If you don’t, make sure your payment method — cash, check, credit card or other credit — is an acceptable way to pay. You also need to get an estimate on any work you plan to have done to make sure it’s within your budget. Find out if the dentist offers cash discounts or payment plans. Keep in mind that the office location may impact the cost. A dentist in a major city may charge more than a dentist in a nearby small town. It could be worth the drive.

Convenience

The cost of dental work adds up quickly, and it’s important to make sure you can afford a professional’s services before making your decision. First, if you have dental insurance, make sure the dentist you choose accepts it. If you don’t, make sure your payment method — cash, check, credit card or other credit — is an acceptable way to pay. You also need to get an estimate on any work you plan to have done to make sure it’s within your budget. Find out if the dentist offers cash discounts or payment plans. Keep in mind that the office location may impact the cost. A dentist in a major city may charge more than a dentist in a nearby small town. It could be worth the drive.

Convenience

If you don’t have time to drive far to your dentist, you need to make sure the office is in a convenient location near your home or office. Don't forget to check office hours to see if the dentist offers appointment times outside your regular work schedule. If not, you will have to take time off work to go to your appointment. Look for someone who is open earlier, later or on weekends. Find out how easy it is to make an appointment. If you have to schedule months in advance because the dentist is so busy, it may be better to choose someone else.

Who Recommends Them

One of the best ways to start your search for a dentist is to get referrals from multiple sources. Start with trusted friends and family who live in your area for recommendations. You can also check online to see ratings from previous patients for dentists in your area. A quick search for dentists in your city should bring up several websites that allow patients to rate their healthcare providers. If all else fails, ask your primary care physician to recommend someone. If you have dental insurance, the carrier may also be willing to recommend someone who is in your network.

How Well They Stay on Top of New Developments

Once you narrow the list to a few dentists, don’t be afraid to find out more about their practices. You want to choose someone who is interested in the field and cares for patients, not someone who just wants to make money. Dentists who keep up with new developments in the oral healthcare industry, use the latest technology in their offices and take time to earn new certifications are worth a deeper look. As for patient care, look for dentists with clean, welcoming offices and friendly staff. Be sure to find out what the dentist does to make patients feel more comfortable in the chair, especially if you're like many people and become anxious during dental procedures.