Most children get regular dental care, yet so many adults find themselves without a good dentist. Finding the right practitioner involves a lot of factors, both logistical and emotional, and many adults procrastinate dental appointments until their options are very limited. Having a regular dentist you trust and see regularly can help avoid many health problems, spanning far beyond your mouth. Follow this guide for some tips to finding the right match dentist for you, so that you can receive effective and timely care.
Consider Your Needs
The first thing you are going to want to do is to make a list of your needs. There are many considerations that go into finding any service provider, and dentists are no exception. Before you even begin to look for dentists, have a list of criteria ready, so that you can see the bigger picture more easily. Consider the following factors to help narrow down your search and to decide what to ask potential providers.
For many people, location is everything. People are busier now than ever before, so finding a practitioner that is fairly close to you is crucial. If you are limited to public transportation or reliant on someone else to take you, that is also something to consider.
Some employers are more understanding than others about missing days for medical appointments, so you may need an office that has weekend or evening appointments available. You will want to ask how far out appointments are usually made, as well as whether emergency appointments are available. There is nothing worse than having to find an alternate provider just when you need one most.
Let’s face it, most of us do not have unlimited amounts of money on hand to pay for medical expenses. If you have dental coverage of any kind, you will want to find a provider that takes your insurance. If you are uninsured, ask about cash discounts or any payments plans that might be available for larger procedures. Many dentists today contract with special medical loan companies to help make services available to more patients. Also, make sure to ask about any promotions or new patient specials available. Having a basic service like a free cleaning or x-rays may help you decide if you like that provider, without making a long-term commitment.
- Special Services Offered
In addition to the regular logistical considerations, you will undoubtedly have specific needs. If English is not your first language, you will want to find someone who speaks your native tongue or has translators available. If you have children you would like to bring to the same office or you are a particularly nervous patient you will want to ask if there are dentists available that specialize in pediatric dentistry and/or first timers. Additionally, many patients are surprised to learn that not all dentists have all pain relief methods available, so you may want to inquire about whether sedation dentistry is practiced or available as an option.
Make a List of Potential Dentists
Now that you have a better idea of what you are looking for, it is time to make a list of potential providers. Think about what is most important to you, and start your research. There are many tools available today. Many people find their best care providers by word of mouth, so do ask around to your contacts. Your coworkers are likely to have the same insurance provider as you, so that can be a good starting point. Your friends and neighbors likely share a lot of the same values, so they are good resources as well.
The internet is another great tool, but the wealth of information available with the click of a button can be very intimidating. Try a simple Google search by typing in “dentist” and your town name into the search bar. There are reviews built into google that can be very helpful, but look beyond the simple ratings and really read through the reviews, both good and bad. You may find that the particular patients have different priorities than you, and their experiences may not reflect what yours is likely to be. Most providers today have at least a basic website or Facebook page that you can also search for answers to your questions.
If these methods do not turn up a sufficient list, you can always go with the tried and true method of print advertising. Of course, as you are looking through ads in magazines, newspapers, and the Yellow Pages, you should remember that this information is written by the providers office in an effort to recruit patients, but you will feel better feeling like you have been thorough in your search.
Make a Decision
Now that you have a list of potential providers, you are ready to find out the answers to your most pressing questions. Decide on the best way to get organized. In the computer age, many people find that creating a spreadsheet is the easiest way to manage information. Others would rather make a list on paper. Or you may be one of those people who need to visit in person to have a “feel” for the office and be able to trust their instincts. Whatever method you choose, remember that whoever you pick will work for you. This is a personal and important decision, and you need to make sure you make the right one. Some dentists may be busier than others, but be very wary of offices that refuse to answer your questions or are dismissive of your concerns.
Once you have asked questions over the phone or internet, or via a personal visit, it is time to make your choice. The process will probably be at least a little bit stressful, so it is often helpful to take a step back from your search. Let the information you have collected sit with you. See if any additional questions pop up that will help you decide between the final contenders. Don’t be afraid to trust your instincts or feel pressured to pick the dentist with the best ratings, or one that came highly recommended by a friend or family member. Just because they are the right provider for someone else does not mean they are a good match for you. If you are still undecided, check in with your top 3 choices about the next available appointment. Convenience is often the the deciding factor.
Once you have chosen your provider, make sure to follow their recommendations and go regularly. Having a provider you have researched and connect with makes self care so much easier.