Whether you are moving to a new city or changing dentists for another reason, finding a new dentist is an important step in establishing your roots in an area. Primary factors in choosing a dentist office to become a regular client are the following; proximity to home, client reviews and testimonials, cleanliness and professionalism of the office when you call or visit them, office hours, the dentist themself and their experience, consideration of any requirements or dental health specialties you may have that the dentist will need to be able to work with. Searching for the right dentist may start with asking people in the area for referrals and honest recommendations, or it may start online with a local search.
Satisfaction of the following requirements:
- Reviews or referral
- Office professionalism
- Office hours and scheduling
- The Dentist
- Specialized fields of knowledge or dental health considerations/conditions
- Dental Insurance
Proximity of the Dentist
Is the dentist’s office within 5-15 miles of your home or office? A dentist’s office in your town will help you visit the dentist more often and will make the scheduling and attending of regular dental checkups much easier, which ultimately benefits your dental health and the underlying reason of why you see a dentist in the first place.
Dental Reviews or Referral
Reviews are largely an online phenomenon and should be weighed appropriately. Dentist reviews are generally all 4 to 5 stars unless people are leaving the dentist and switching to a new dentist’s office. When you read reviews online you will notice a pattern of either satisfied clients that write genuine responses or a trend of dissatisfaction or templated replies. As for referrals, source opinions from people that you trust or know the local area well. Referrals are usually a relatively intimate process for people seeking them and the people willing to recommend a dentist or any other service to you.
Dentist Office Professionalism
When you call or visit someone greets you and understands what you are looking for and what your needs are and then works with you to solve your questions and accommodate your schedule. Professionalism also extends to office policies, namely COVID-19 prevention measures and practices, office cleanliness and staff training, the dentist’s training, education, and certifications, as well as equipment standards in the office. From your first call, visit, or appointment you will feel and look for signs that you have found the correct fit for you or if you will need to continue searching for the right dentist.
Office Hours and Appointment Scheduling
Does the dentist’s office accommodate your schedule, would you be able to visit the office during their regular business hours? Dentist office hours generally range from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday to condensed timeframes on select days of the week based on the dentist, their staff, and their particular office. Either view their hours of operation on Google or on their website or call them and ask. Also, consider whether or not the dentist does emergency calls around the clock or if they do not have emergency support.
The Dentist Themself
Is the person that is actually going to be checking, cleaning, and reporting on your teeth and dental health good at what they do? A good dentist keeps your mouth in check and helps you maintain dental health for years to come. A dentist can be weighed by experience and reviews of their expertise, specialized fields of knowledge within dentistry, their education and training background, certificates, and awards that recognize their medical competency.
Specialized Knowledge or Dental Health Conditions
If you have particular dental health conditions or needs that arise from your own personal circumstances or dental history then you need to find a dentist that has experience and knowledge when it comes to treating your particular dental condition. Within dentistry, there are many specialized fields beyond simple hygiene checkups. Finding a dentist that is certified in treating your dental conditions along with their usual practice is important to your overall health and wellbeing. Ask the office and dentist when you meet them, bring medical records or any other documentation that is necessary for them to understand and state whether or not they are the right dentist for you.
Ask the dentist office staff or dentist directly if they accept your insurance coverage and provider. The dentist office website may list accepted insurance providers and coverage plans, but you may want to double-check and confirm with the dentist or office manager.
How to Start the Search Online
Enter localized search queries for dentists in your area and review the listings and offerings. According to the Health Policy Institute and American Dental Association (ADA) study, for a population of 100,000 living in the United States there are 61 dentists (ranges by state and population density), totaling 201,117 dentists working in the United States in the year 2020. This means that in most cities ranging from small to large, there are multiple active dentists and dentist offices in immediate proximity. Starting online narrows the results and delivers a portfolio of information to you for your consideration when selecting a new dentist. Read reviews, view their work (before and after photos), consider their hours of operation, the dentist’s qualifications, practice licensing and certifications, and another general to specific information based on your needs, most of which will be readily accessible on their website.
ADA Member Search
You may skip the general browser searches and go directly to the American Dental Association’s website to use their search directory to find ADA member certified dentists in your area, detailing the search by address, distance to the address input, dental specialty, or the dentist’s name. This is a great solution to streamline your search for a dentist you can trust. The ADA directory is a database of member dentists and their practice information.
Asking people in the area what dentist they recommend and personally visit/trust. Referrals are an act and vote of trust in the subject of the recommendation. Do not pester people for answers, but if you know someone in the area that seems to be a careful, methodical, or well-composed individual you may want to try asking them what dentist office they go to in the area, and if they have a dentist in particular they visit. You may then want to tell them that if you speak with the dentist you may let them know that you were referred to their office by ‘your acquaintance.’ Referrals may either supplement an online search or may orient your online search, but either way, you should research the dentist’s office and take necessary preparations before committing to a dentist and their office because this is your mouth we are talking about.