If you live outside the U.S. (the UK, Australia, Canada, etc.) and want to find a local dentist or specialist near you, click here.
Finding a new dentist, especially when you need an important treatment like veneers, implants, or a root canal, can be nerve wracking. Similar to your medical doctor, the relationship between you and your dentist should be close and personal.
In the U.S., you can avoid a lot of stress and save a lot of time by taking advantage of a service like 1800Dentist.
They match you with friendly, trustworthy, and pre-screened dentists. Their service is free, there's no obligation or commitment, and over 7 million people have successfully used them. It's where you should start your search.
However, if you prefer to do things on your own, or want to research potential dentists a little deeper, consider the 14 steps below to help you stay on track and avoid big problems later.
Find out who their dentist is and ask them to give you the contact information. Ask them if they're pleased with their dentist, and why. Learn how long they've been patients.
Double-check that you have the correct spelling for dentist's name, not their nickname, their complete office address, and if possible, the dentist's license number, too.
Don't stop there, go a little deeper. Sometimes within the same family, the husband and wife each have their own dentist, as well as their children.
Maybe the dentist who the wife recommends isn't who the husband would. If you run into this, you ought to review all their dentists to find the right one for you. Then...
If you completed step #1 well, you should have a list of at least a dozen dentists or specialists to consider. Plus, a couple more whose advertising you found that sound like contenders.
Take the time to screen each one before scheduling a time to visit the office in person. Next...
The easiest form of payment is cash (cash, credit card, check) because all dentists and specialists accept it. (For higher priced treatments, you can usually work out a custom payment or treatment plan that works for your budget.)
However, if you'll use insurance, a dental plan, or government aid to pay for part, or all, of your treatment, you should call the dental office and ask, or search for an answer on their website.
** Ask for a discount when paying cash. Compared to dealing with insurance companies or government aid programs, dentists typically have lower overhead, red tape, and delays when you pay by cash. And then...
The first thing you need to research is what organization regulates dentist licenses in your state. And the names of these organizations vary from state to state and it doesn't always make logical sense.
For instance, in Texas the agency is the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners. But in California the Dental Board falls under the Department of Consumer Affairs. You'll need to do some homework to find out who regulates dentists in your state.
However, make certain that you have the dentist's accurate contact information. This is important because many dentist share similar names.
Once you know the proper agency, you can then look up the license information. However, you can save a lot of time and effort using 1800Dentist, since they pre-screen all the dentists to make sure they're properly licensed and that their license is up to date.
Dentistry is highly regulated so you want to investigate that the dentist has all the proper paperwork in place.
For instance, if the dentist practices "sleep dentistry" (sedation dentistry) he should have the proper permits to use this method.
Each locality has its own red tape the dentist needs to follow depending on the services offered. You'll need to take more time to see if these are all up to date and current.
Finding your dentist through 1800Dentist saves you time and headache, since they look into this before they match you with a dentist. And the next step...
Dentists are human like the rest of us and sometimes make mistakes. Put in some extra work and research if the dentist has any disciplinary actions.
If so, pay attention to when it occurred, how often, and for what reason.
Again, the dentist matching service provided by 1800Dentist takes care of this for you. Use their service to save time and avoid stress.
Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society. If a dentist has been in practice for a long time, one malpractice lawsuit in the past may not be a deal stopper.
However, if the dentist has dozens of lawsuits in the past, or is currently fighting one now, you may want to know this before hand.
Another step you can take to discover if this information exists is to check the superior or local county courts' docketing systems. Search for the dentist's name under the defendant section and see if it comes up. And then...
likely you won't find this information in public records. And you'll probably have a difficult time seeing the dentist's malpractice insurance information since it's an unusual request by
But, if you think this is important to your peace of mind, 1800Dentist says it monitors their dentists' malpractice insurance levels and renewals under their pre-screening process.
Now that you've spent the time screening dentists on your own and whittled down your original list of referrals from friends and family, it's time to evaluate the 'soft data'.
The first evaluation is if the staff
is friendly, organized, and professional on the phone.
You're trusting your and your family's oral health to the dentist. But the dentist does not, and cannot work alone. The staff is a vital part of a successful dental office, and your successful treatment.
If you get a bad feeling about them over the phone, it probably won't change much when you meet them in person. The next step...
Does the office pay attention to details? Is the waiting room messy, dirty,
disorganized? Is the staff courteous and professional? Is the office well run?
At this point just make mental notes. A well run dental practice will go out of its way to present a professional appearance in their waiting room, their bathroom, even in their parking lot (if they have direct control over it).
This should give you
clues on how they will treat your care. Next, find out...
This follows a similar thought process for the waiting room above.
If the examination
room is kept clean, neat, and hygienic, this gives good clues that your health, comfort, and safety will be a top focus as well. What else...?
You want to work with a competent and professional dentist.
The good news is that each dentist who has passed the steps above, and who you decide to visit in person, will most likely meet this minimum requirement for good manners.
The definition of 'Good Bedside Manners' is subjective at best. Your definition will differ from someone else. And each of us has unique personalities and levels of tolerance.
The thing you're looking for here is that the chemistry between you and the dentist match up. Next...
The dental industry is constantly evolving and new techniques and materials come to the market that promise to make the dentist and your treatment better, more sound, and with a higher rate of long-lasting success.
You don't necessarily want or need to work with a dentist that has all the latest dental gizmos and gadgets. But you do want a dentist that stays current with the best practices in the profession and is aware of their benefits and limitations. Which leads us to...
Most dental labs can do an adequate job meeting the routine form and function needs for dentists and their patients.
And similar to Step #13, you may not need a lab that has all latest gizmos and gadgets.
But, if you are seeking cosmetic dentistry or have a complex case that requires specialists to complete, you want the dentist to work with a lab that has expertise with cosmetic dentistry and complex cases.
The lab, dental technician, dentist, and specialist should all be able to speak the same professional language and communicate with each other clearly to get you the best possible result.
Finding a good dentist is an important decision and the 14 steps above are a helpful guide.
Use all the steps, or some of them, and complete them in any order you choose. The final decision is yours.
If you're tight on time and want less stress, remember 1800Dentist's matching service. They pre-screen the dentists and quickly match you with a friendly, trustworthy dentist near you. Over 7 million people in America got introduced to a great dentist this way.
(** If you're looking for a dentist and live outside the U.S., click here **)
If you live outside the U.S. you can find a dentist near you with the helpful search bar below.
Type in dentist, cosmetic dentist, or the dental specialty your require, AND include the city and country you live in.
Examples: cosmetic dentist London England or periodontist Toronto Canada or dentist Sydney Australia.
If you're not sure about the specialty, start by typing 'dentist' and your city.
Start your search now...
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