If you’ve relocated to a new area, you may find yourself pondering how to select a dentist who can meet your needs and the needs of your family. Here are a few pointers that may help you. What Type of General Dentistry Services Do You Need? It may surprise you to learn that not every dentist classified as a general dentist offers the same services. And you may also be surprised to learn that some general dentists offer a wider range of services these days. Many people are accustomed to going to see a separate specialty dentist for procedures such as root canals or braces. While you’re in the market for a new dentist, consider the types of services you and other members of your family might need. Why not explore whether there is a general dentist who is well qualified to provide all of those services?
In addition to the convenience (not having to deal with getting records or supplying insurance information again) of using a single provider of services most of the time, there’s another advantage. Your care will be administered by someone who knows and regularly follows your dental and general health, as well as any personal preferences on how care is administered. Cosmetic dentistry, comprehensive dentistry, implant dentistry, and sedation dentistry are types of services that you may want to consider and look for before making a decision. How Do I Choose Among Providers of the Services I Want? One approach is to base your decision on referrals from friends. That’s not a bad idea; it may be a good indicator of the cordiality, office environment, wait times, and other aspects of the practice. But how do you assess the actual quality of the dental care that will be provided? Here are a few ideas:
* Check with your state dental board. Regulation of the practice of dentistry occurs at the state – not a national – level. The American Dental Association (ADA) and the Academy of General Dentists (AGD) are professional associations – not accrediting bodies. If you’re looking for a general dentist who provides some of the previously mentioned specialized services (e.g., sedation dentistry), ask if there are special regulations for that practice in your state, and whether they can provide you a list of dentists who have those qualifications. Some state boards provide searchable databases online.
* Check the dentist’s credentials. Going to a top dental school isn’t a guarantee, of course, but it can provide some level of assurance. Learn about where the dentist served his or her residency as well as other places the dentist has practiced that would have provided extensive experience in the use of orthodontics, implants, or other cosmetic services if you plan to have your dentist provide those services.
* Check out professional affiliations and awards. Does your dentist make it a point to stay up on the latest advances by participating in national, state, and local professional organizations? Dentistry, like any aspect of the medical profession, can make some major leaps forward in just a few years. It’s important for dentists to stay informed after they leave dental school, and participation in the professional community is a great way to do that. To evaluate awards, check out the criteria for selection, and consider how recent the award is.
* Evaluate the use of technology. To get the best dental health care, it’s important that your dentist take advantage of technological advances. This doesn’t mean the dentist has to have every advanced technology available. But falling too far behind means the dentist isn’t investing in new advances that aid in prevention and early detection of dental health issues. This information may or may not be available on the practice web site. If not, then a call or visit to the office with a special request to understand the full range of services provided – including an explanation of any recent technology upgrades – can be helpful in your final decision-making process.