Finding a dental home can be challenging. Scroll down for tips from the Metro Denver Dental Society and the American Dental Association on how to find the right fit for you.
You can have a good experience with dentistry by making the right choice of a family dentist and by practicing good oral health care at home between dental visits. Proper home hygiene can reduce the costs of dental care by preventing dental disease. For successful dental care it is important to have a family dentist who takes a sincere interest in the patient’s general health. It makes sense to select and become acquainted with a dentist before a dental emergency arises. If you are a member of a dental benefit such as a dental HMO or capitation plan you will be limited in the number of dentists from which to choose in any given area. Nonetheless the following can still provide useful guidelines in the selection process.
State Board licensed dentists in general practice are fully qualified to provide nearly all aspects of dental care. They can also provide referrals in cases where specialized treatment is required. Specialty areas in dentistry include:
- Endodontics – root canal therapy
- Oral Pathology – identification and management of diseases affecting the oral cavity such as oral cancer and oral lesions
- Oral Surgery – the identification and removal of teeth or tissues from the oral cavity
- Orthodontics – braces and the repositioning of teeth
- Pediatric Dentistry – care exclusively for children and teens
- Periodontics – care of gums and supporting tissues
- Prosthodontics – dentists specially trained for full mouth rehabilitation
Before selecting a family dentist, you may want to consider several. Here are some of the ways you can locate qualified dentists in your area:
- Check the ADA Directory by visiting Find-A-Dentist
- Speak to your family physician or local pharmacist.
- Ask friends, neighbors, co-workers, clergy, etc. to recommend a dentist.
- Speak to faculty members of dental schools in your area.
- Call or write a nearby hospital that has an accredited dental service.
By spending the small amount of time necessary to make an intelligent choice of a dentist, you will help create a doctor-patient relationship founded on mutual trust and respect. After completing your research, call a dentist for an appointment. At your first visit you should be able to learn a lot about whether the dentist is right for you and your family. Keep in mind the following questions:
What is the general appearance of the office, the dentist, and the staff? Is everything neat, clean, and orderly? Do they abide by OSHA guidelines.
How available is the dentist? Is the appointment schedule convenient for you? Is the office easy to get to from your home or place of business?
Does the office provide dental health instruction and education? You will want a dentist who is skilled both in the treatment and prevention of dental disorders.
Does the dentist seem genuinely interested in your health? Your medical and dental history should be recorded and placed in a permanent file to assist in the evaluation of your future dental health needs.
What arrangements does the dentist have for handling emergencies that occur outside of office hours? Does the dentist have an answering service or paging service?
Don’t be embarrassed to ask the dentist about fees. The dentist and his/her staff should be willing to discuss fees and/or financial arrangements in advance of treatment.
The Metro Denver Dental Society is a not-for-profit component society of the American Dental Association and the Colorado Dental Association.