Whether you’ve moved to a new area, or you’re dissatisfied with your current dental practice, how do you go about choosing the right dentist to suit your needs? Follow these tips and you should be smiling.
A good place to start is to ask friends and colleagues if they’re happy with their dental practices. Take particular note of anyone who’s had root canals, tooth extractions, crowns, or even implants, as these treatments require more skill and expertise than a scale and polish. Be aware, however, that opinions are subjective; one person’s ideal dentist may not be yours.
Check out dental practices’ Facebook pages. You can usually see photos of the premises, together with patient reviews. Also look at reviews from the Google business listing that appears when you search for a practice. A more comprehensive site that can help you decide is WhatClinic, where, in addition to reviews, there’s more general information about a practice, including prices. It’s important to look at the number of reviews and not just the rating. Compare a five-star rating achieved from a handful of patients to a practice that has a slightly lower score but from a substantially larger number of reviews. Which gives a more accurate picture?
Visit the practice
You might think this is isn’t the norm, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t arrange an appointment to meet the Treatment Coordinator (and if possible, a dentist) and be given a tour. It’s amazing how quickly you can suss a place out from the reception you get. Come armed with a list of questions. How well qualified are the dentists? Do they offer emergency appointments? Is the practice a ‘one-stop shop’, or would you need referring elsewhere for tricky extractions and implants? The Clinical Manager or Treatment Coordinator should be able to answer all your questions and instil confidence. He/she should give off a friendly, professional vibe – welcoming but not over the top. First impressions speak volumes.
Technology and procedures
Look for a practice that invests in the latest technology and keeps up with current techniques. This shows a forward-thinking dental practice that wants to offer patients the best that dentistry has to offer. For instance, can the dentist offer hassle-free crowns and veneers in a single appointment, or would it be one visit for the messy impressions that are sent off to the lab, then a second visit for the crown to be fitted a week or two later? Dental practices are businesses, so don’t be afraid to ask why they’re a better choice than other practices.
Dealing with nervous patients
Let’s be honest, most people don’t like going to the dentist. If you get nervous at the thought of pain, needles, and drilling, you want a dental team who will take a sympathetic view of your anxiety. You shouldn’t have to feel embarrassed if you become tearful or shake during appointments, which is why you should look for a practice team that exudes empathy and makes a point of helping you feel calm and secure from the moment you walk through the door. And even an aesthetically designed waiting room can make a big difference.
It’s likely you’ll already have dental insurance, so you need to find out if you can transfer it to the new practice. If you need to switch to another company, ensure it’s one of the leading firms such as Denplan (Simply Health). Some practices also offer their own monthly schemes for routine appointments that offer excellent value for money. Better still, find out if they offer zero percent finance for costly treatments, so you can spread the cost.
While it might not be a deal-breaker, having ample and convenient parking makes life easier when you’re rushing to an appointment during your lunch hour! The last thing you need is added stress by having to search for a parking space – especially if you have to pay for it as well!
Choosing the right dentist comes down to doing your homework. A little time spent researching a practice before you join should pay dividends.
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