Moving to a new area is almost always a stressful experience. It’s also an experience filled with a long to-do list: unpacking, redecorating, contacting service providers, and learning all you need to know about your new community.
Included in that list is finding a new dentist. If you’ve had the same trusted dentist for years, the idea of finding a new one may seem daunting.
To make the process a bit simpler, we’ve put together the following list of tips. We hope they’ll be a help as you look for a new dentist you can trust and feel comfortable with.
Narrow Your Choices
Ask Coworkers and Acquaintances: Find recommendations for dentists by asking coworkers and any acquaintances you may already have in your new community. Ask for detailed information about the staff, and the dentist’s personality and demeanor. Find out how long patients usually have to wait to get an appointment, and how long they tend to sit in the waiting room. Get as much specific information as you can, but bear in mind that everyone’s experience and perceptions can be different.
A coworker, for instance, may prefer a no-nonsense dentist—someone who doesn’t bother with small-talk, and doesn’t spend a lot of time explaining every last dental procedure. You may feel the same way … or you may prefer a dentist who takes the time necessary to get to know you, and who always explains exactly what he or she is doing, and why.
Utilize OPT-In Dental Advantage: OPT-In Dental Advantage’s referral service can make your search much easier. Every dentist we work with has agreed to abide by the OPT-In Code of Ethics. They’ve also all had their professional credentials reviewed, and have been reported to be in good standing with their state boards of dentistry.
To find an OPT-In Dentist near you, simply fill in your location and check off the services that interested in. You’ll be given a selection of OPT-In Dentists who meet your criteria; you can then click on their websites to find out more about each practice.
Set Up a Consultation
Once you find a dentist you’re interested in seeing, call and ask for a consultation. This will give you the chance to see if you’ll feel comfortable in the dentist’s office and with the dental staff. Does the office seem friendly and well organized? Does the staff treat you with respect and make you feel welcome? Does the wait seem reasonable?
Ask Plenty of Questions
When you meet with the dentist, bring a copy of your family’s dental records and ask any questions you may have. For example, depending on your family’s needs, you may wonder about dental care for young children. Or you might be concerned about caring for your teeth as you age. You may be interested in ways to improve your smile, or you could want to find out how to stop grinding your teeth. Talk to the dentist about what procedures he or she usually performs, and which are referred to other specialists.
Ask about the dentist’s education and experience, including the training they’ve had with any procedures you may need. You may also want to inquire about hours and procedures for dental emergencies. And if any of your family members are nervous about seeing the dentist, is sedation dentistry or other comfort-increasing measures used? Does the dental office have a fee structure that can be explained to you, and are payment plans arranged if needed?
The answers to your questions—including how open and willing the dentist and staff are to addressing your concerns—will go a long way toward helping you make the right decision.
Don’t Overestimate Your Dental Benefits
If you have dental benefits, you may be tempted to just choose a dentist from the insurer’s list of preferred providers. This can be a mistake, however. You may be directed toward a dentist that you’re not comfortable with, only to find out that your premiums actually cover very little care.
Many dental benefit plans will pay for dental cleaning and X-rays, but will pay very little (or nothing) toward the cost of work like crowns or implants. Bring a summary of your dental benefits to a dental office that you’re considering. The office personnel and dentist should be willing to help explains your benefits to you and help you make sure you get the most out of your benefits. If you’re trying to decide between dental plans, bring the information to the dental office. The dentist can help you determine which company—if any—is best for your particular dental needs.
Selecting the right dentist is an important decision, so it’s important to not just choose your dental care at random. Take the time to do your research, and you’ll have a much better chance of finding a dentist whom you can rely on for years to come.