Finding The Right Dentist
It’s important that you and your family members feel comfortable with your dentist, since you’re more likely to keep your appointments and follow oral care advice from a dentist you like and respect.
A Thing To Keep In Mind
When you’re looking to find the right dentist, keep in mind dental care is very personal. So your neighbor’s or colleague’s dentist might not be the dentist for you.
Things To Consider
Here are a few things worth considering as you search:
Convenience. Is the dentist’s office conveniently located near your home or office? Do the office hours accommodate your schedule?
Insurance. Does the dentist take your dental insurance? Can you get information about payment plans and costs before procedures are scheduled?
Attitude. Is the office friendly and welcoming? Does the dentist explain procedures and treatments in a way that you can understand?
Emergencies. Is there a plan in place for emergency dental care outside of normal office hours?
Professionalism. A dentist who is a member of the American Dental Association has graduated from an accredited dental school in the United States and committed to uphold high standards of ethics.
What You Must Know
A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). They mean the same thing-different schools use different terminology. These degrees apply to general dentists. A specialized dentist will have an additional certification in an area such as oral surgery or pediatric dentistry.
Most people maintain their oral health with regular visits to a general dentist. A general dentistry practice focuses on taking care of your entire mouth, including cleaning teeth, preventing cavities, and evaluating your teeth and gums for signs of problems or infections. A general dentist can provide diagnostic procedures such as x-rays that are needed in preparation for specialized care such as orthodontics, dental implants, or surgery to remove impacted wisdom teeth.
General dentists often perform routine procedures such as filling cavities and also the dentist or dental hygienist provides tooth cleaning or scaling. Your dentist also serves as a troubleshooter trained to identify early signs of gum disease, oral cancer, or temporomandibular joint disorders, and can coordinate your care with specialists, such as orthodontists if you need braces or endodontists if you need a root canal.
Guiding the Patients
In addition, they provide patients with guidance and preventive health advice about how best to follow a regular oral health routine of twice-daily tooth brushing and daily flossing.
In addition, general dentists can provide many cosmetic procedures such as tooth-whitening, dental veneers, and dental bonding. Cosmetic dentistry is not currently a recognized dental specialty, but general dentists may have pursued additional education in order to perform cosmetic procedures such as bonding, teeth whitening, enamel shaping, and dental veneers. If you’re interested in cosmetic procedures, start by talking to your general dentist. He or she can provide advice and refer you to a specialist if necessary.
When To Start Going To The Dentist
Did you know that children’s teeth begin forming before birth? As early as four months, the first primary, or baby, teeth, erupt through the gums. Knowing that, when is the best time to get the dentist involved? The answer is as soon as the first tooth appears. At this time, begin brushing your child’s teeth daily and schedule a dental appointment. In most cases, children should visit the dentist by their first birthday.
Ask friends and family and select a dentist in your area who likes children and takes care of them regularly. The first relationship your child has with a dentist can leave a lasting impression.
How Can I Prepare My Child For The First Dental Visit?
You can make your child’s first visit to the dentist enjoyable and positive. Tell your child in advance that someone will look at their teeth and clean them. Try showing them pictures of a dentist or have fun role-playing, acting like you or your child are the dentist. Most dentists prefer that a parent be present for the examination of any child under the age of three. Some ask the parent to sit in the dental chair and hold the young patient in their lap during the first few examinations. It can also be helpful to take your younger children along for an older sibling’s dental visit so that they can get accustomed to the office and the people. As children get older, they’re usually happy to be “grown up” and are willing to sit in the chair alone while they send their parents back to the waiting room. At the first visit, your dental professional will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of decay and other problems. He or she will also tell you many of the things you’ll need to know about helping your
child grow up cavity-free. After the first visit, be sure your child sees the dentist regularly.
How to Find the Right Dentist
Finding the right dentist for you and your family involves a combination of factors. But it all comes down to the four C’s: Competence, convenience, compatibility and cost.
First and foremost, you need your dentist to be competent, which means that he or she maintains a high level of professionalism and knows the latest treatments and developments in the dental field. To ensure competent dental care, look for a dentist who is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dentists who are members of the AGD must meet requirements for continuing education and are pledged to uphold the highest standards of ethics and patient care.
A dentist may have a degree that says DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) or DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery). These degrees apply to general dentists and represent the same training programs, but different dental schools use different terms.
Convenience is another important factor in finding a dentist. You’ll be much more likely to keep appointments if you choose a dentist whose office is convenient to your home or workplace. Also, look for a dentist whose office hours fit with your schedule. Do you need evening or weekend appointments? Do you have children who could see a dentist after school? These are the type of questions to consider.
Also, a convenient dentist is one who participates with your dental insurance plan. Most dentists in the United States participate with the large dental plans offered by most employers, but you won’t know until you ask. If you have insurance, your insurance company can provide a list of dentists who participate with your plan. Take that list and ask your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers for recommendations.
Next, consider compatibility. For example, some dentists are specialists in treating patients who are fearful of dental procedures, whether it’s filling a cavity or performing a root canal. So if you tend to be a nervous dental patient, ask your friends and colleagues to recommend a dentist that they like because he or she puts patients at ease. And ask a potential dentist whether he or she offers sedation dentistry, which involves treating you with a sedative via a pill, inhaled gas, or intravenous drug therapy prior to a dental procedure to help you relax.
If you have children, you may want to look for a dentist who has extra training in pediatric dentistry, although most general dentists manage a family practice and are expert at treat patients of all ages. Of course, some dentists are more comfortable and better at working with children than others. It may be worth asking other parents to help you find a child-friendly dentist, because positive experiences with dental care in early childhood can help encourage children to develop and follow consistent oral health care routines as they grow up.
Trust your instincts: Is the office clean and neat? Are your records in order when you arrive? Is there a plan in place for after-hours dental emergencies? Find a dentist who makes you feel comfortable about asking questions, and who explains treatments and procedures so you can understand them.
Finally, consider cost. Some people are very loyal to a dentist they like and will stick with him or her regardless of what their insurance does or doesn’t cover. Others give more weight to cost.
Many insurance plans cover 100 percent of the cost of at least one basic dental checkup and professional cleaning per year, and many plans cover two checkups per year. So it’s always worth the effort to find a quality dentist who participates in your insurance plan. If you need a dental procedure that your insurance plan doesn’t cover, contact the American Dental Association to find out about dental clinics operated by dental schools in your area. These school-based clinics are operated by the schools and supervised by licensed dentists. They often offer advanced procedures as well as basic dental care, often at a reduced cost.
If you have no dental insurance, you may be able to set aside money in a Flexible Spending Account through your employer to help cover a dental procedure, such as orthodontia, that you’re planning in advance.
Source: Oral B