Finding a dentist or a dental expert is easy; finding a “great” one is the challenge.
I really think dentists scare most of us because we probably had some bad experiences with one of them…. Even the word D.E.N.T.I.S.T triggers some kind of fear…
When I was a child, I was lucky enough to have a really nice and skilled dental expert that my mum had picked for my first dental treatments… (Thank you mum 😉 ) He was really kind and would try to make every treatment as quick and painless as possible… (Ok maybe I am a little biased, I always had that colorful lollipop at the end… they know how to trick kids haha) But every time I had to go and consult him, I was not afraid at all… In fact, the only thing that I wanted to know at that time was if there was any love affair between him and his pretty assistant… (A little childhood crush probably lol)
When he retired, and I had to visit another teeth professional, well I could definitely feel the difference. You know that awful feeling of being just a set of walking teeth and not a patient…. I can tell you that terrible tooth butcher (yep, I can’t find another word) only saw me once and it was more than enough, believe me.
I am sure you probably also had similar experiences.
In fact, as for every job, there are good professionals and bad ones… and as long as there is no rule that compels all bad ones to retire forever, we need ways to find good ones.
So how to find the perfect dental expert? For your dental implants, your veneers, your bridges, braces (orthodontist), whitening…
Of course, let’s be clear, there is no magic formula but a few useful elements to keep in mind that will definitely help you pick an ideal dental expert like my first one.
- 1 What is a good dentist?
- 2 Steps to find your perfect dental specialist
- 3 Forget the recommendations.
- 4 The list of 38 Questions you may ask
- 5 A Few Words of Caution
What is a good dentist?
But first let’s be clear about what a good dental professional is in my opinion:
– Honest in all his/her dealings with patients especially when it comes to their dental conditions;
– Has extensive and up to date knowledge about dentistry
– Open to enquiries and provides truthful answers.
– Really takes pain management seriously
Now that we are on the same page, let’s see some ideas to find the real gem.
Steps to find your perfect dental specialist
Use the third party solution
Certainly my number one advice, as nothing is better than a good recommendation from someone you know and you trust.I call this the third party solution. So don’t be shy and ask anyone you know in your area if they have good dental experts that they can vouch for. First-hand experience is a very reliable way of getting a worthwhile recommendation. Friends, co-workers, relatives, or even mere acquaintances will be able to throw in a name or two. But make sure they have the same criteria of a good professional as you… A nice dental expert is certainly a good start but is not enough…
So, now you should have a list with a few names to begin with but before running to your phone to contact them, hold on and read the following ideas…
Follow the health care provider lead
You already have some names to begin with but doctors, pharmacists, or anyone you know who work in the medical field are also good sources of information when it comes to dental care. The advantage of getting recommendation from them is that they are also work as medical health providers so they definitely know what defines a “good” dental professional (not to mention the fact that they themselves are dental patients).
The good thing is by combining your first list and these new names, one or 2 names might appear as recurring recommended dentists, so that gives you some hints on the real good ones… but yet don’t stop here… I know I am a bit a pain in the….. But I want you to get the best professional so there is one more thing you could do to increase your odds to pick the right one.
Search online and why you can’t believe everything
You certainly guessed where I am going… yep, by now, you should have some names to check on the Internet. So go and check any Internet reviews from former patients. Type in your favorite search engine like Google, the name and location of each professional. You should usually get some reviews in the first results, if not, try name location and add the term “reviews”.
You can also check their website but don’t take the testimonials on those websites too seriously, fakes ones are very easy to add….
In fact, take any positive or negative reviews, comments, testimonials (you name it) you find on the internet with a grain of salt as some dentists can easily ask friends to leave positive feedbacks to get more clients, as well as ask them to leave negative comments on other competitors’ profiles to get rid of them… I know it is really unethical to do so but unfortunately it does exist. Did you know you could find specialized companies that would write those positive reviews for you? I suppose when there is money at stake, everything is possible…
Anyway, among those fake testimonials, positive or negative, there are certainly true ones, but in my opinion, because unhappy patients are more willing to leave a feedback, (when you are not satisfied with a company, you usually would say it to 10 people or even leave a comment for other people to see it, whereas when you are satisfied, you usually don’t write about it…. I know we are like this) so chances are you would find more “true” negative comments than “true” positive ones… what do you think?
I suppose you are bit overwhelmed if you can’t trust the online reviews… so to be clear, my rule of thumb is I don’t pay too much attention to the positive feedbacks, and avoid dentists with many negative comments.
This online search only serves to confirm the names you got from the 2 previous steps. So now you should have 1 or 2 dentists to contact.
I know you can find a list of dental professionals from local or national organizations, like the American Dental Association or a dental association in you country, this can be probably useful in some situations but in my opinion, it is just a simple list of every tooth professionals in your area, good ones as well as bad ones.
I told you nothing is better than a recommended expert…
Forget the recommendations.
Now this is time to get appointments. I suppose if you plan to get dental implants, veneers, bridges etc… you will probably go and consult several dental professionals but keep in mind some professionals offer free consultations, orthers don’t. So you’d better check before to avoid any unpleasant surprise.
Whatever the recommendations, at the end of the day, it is you who knows what is best for you. A good dental professional for someone else may not be as good for you. A connection between you and the professional is important because you need to feel a certain level of trust in order for you to be comfortable during your required treatment.
So schedule an appointment for your first consultation. It is at this stage that you need to ask relevant questions regarding dental implant (or anything about dental health care that concerns you). Don’t be shy about asking questions; I know it can look intimidating but after all you are the client, it is your own health and if really this dental expert is worthwhile, he or she will be more than happy to answer your questions. Besides, the more you know about what your prospective dentist knows, the better for your dental health and peace of mind.
Ok, but don’t go without being prepared. Have you ever consulted a physician or a health professional and found out after the consultation that you forgot to ask some important questions? Sounds familiar? I made that mistake a lot and everytime I was mad at myself. So be smarter than me, and get all your questions ready on a piece of paper or your smartphone…(to sound more geeky 😉 and make sure to run all through them.
The list of 38 Questions you may ask
To help you get your list of questions ready, here are some questions that you might want to ask. And if you feel embarrased or guilty for whatever reasons you may come up with, please remember a good professional is open to questions and is ready to provide answers. Just by observing how he or she reacts to your questions will show you a great deal about his or her character.
Of course, let’s be clear, you don’t need to ask every question below, these are just questions that you might want to ask. We all have different priorities. Besides, you may already have found some answers on their website, so go through each one of those suggested questions and select the one you want to note down on your own personal list.
Now for the questions:
About the dentist and his/her practice:
- How long have you been a dental expert?
- What qualifications do you have? This refers to education and where they studied, trainings, specializations, continuing studies, and the likes. You might want to take note of the answers and confirm them with your local dental society or organization.
- How long have you been practicing dental implant surgery (or any dental practice you are most concerned about like veneers, braces etc..)?
- What types of anesthesia do you use and are you certified to use anesthesia?
- Do you regularly attend dental conferences or take other educational courses?
- What specific areas of specialization do you have?
About the clinic and its amenities
- Do you have complete equipment for surgery?
- Will the operation/treatment/procedure be done in the clinic or in a hospital?
- Do you also provide dental treatment for kids (if you have children)? If so, if the clinic children friendly (toys, games etc..)
- what amenities do you have in your clinic?
- Can I call you during an emergency and what emergency services do you provide?
- Can I reach you personally during off-hours or weekends?
About dental implant procedure to find your dental implant specialist
- What your dental implant methodology and what procedures do you follow (including materials used)?
- What alternatives do you have when it comes to materials and procedures?
- What types of anesthesia do you use for your patients?
- Can you provide me with more information about dental implants?
- What are the possible complications of dental implants?
- How long is the dental implant procedure?
- What if the procedure fails, what are my options?
Cost and expenses
- How much do you charge for a dental implant or any other procedure?
- What is your preferred method of payment?
- Do you accept insurance or health cards?
- Do you have payment plans?
- What procedures and materials are included in the quoted price of your dental implant or any pther procedure?
- Can you show me before-and-after photos of former patients?
Ask these questions randomly and naturally. These are just questions that you can start a conversation with. Talk and ask questions to your dental professional as if s/he was a friend. This will help you gather as much information as you need to make your decision. You don’t want to turn the conversation into a police interrogation.
Questions for you as well:
- Do you find him or her friendly? How did s/he make you feel?
- Are the clinic and their operating hours convenient for you?
- How do you find their clinic and equipment? Does it look clean?
- Is the staff patient-friendly?
- Are they using the latest (or at least, not outdated) equipment and technology?
- Do they take precautionary measures, such as wearing gloves or surgical masks, when treating a patient?
- Do they write down your answers to the questions they asked?
- How thorough was their answer to your questions regarding dental implant procedure?
- Were they able to explain to you the procedure in a language that you can understand? Simply, did they use layman’s language to make sure that you understand fully the information they are providing?
- Did they discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure and are you satisfied with their answer?
- Did they perform a thorough examination your teeth, gums, and mouth before they provided their initial recommendation? If the tooth epxert gives an opinion without even checking your teeth, RUN.
- Did they jot down your medical history and kept them filed?
A Few Words of Caution
Bells and whistles are what you will hear when you ask them about their practice (actually, this applies to all professions). You need to know how to sift through all of these to find the right professional for your needs.
Advertisements and promises are not really bad, as long as they are not made excessively. If you find the expert is really too over the top, just step back to listen to your gut feeling. Anyway, you can consult several ones so take your time to find the one you feel the most comfortable with.
You may also have to be wary of the price quotation. When the price is too good to be true compared to other professionals in the same area, (meaning with the same taxes, similar clinic rent to pay, same size of staff etc…) you need to find out how it is possible. Prices can vary a lot depending on many factors. If we take the example of dental implants, some dentists can specialize in this procedure so they have better wholesale prices from the implants manufacturer, so that would explain such a price difference. So ask them why their prices are so low…But If you can’t find why, I mean if you can’t find valid explanations for so low prices, then there might be hidden issues…. It is not worth risking your dental health.
I know finding the right tooth expert may require you to do a lot of work but keep in mind that it is your well being that is at stake—and that alone is priceless.
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thanks halina for your kind words
Pretty helpful. I will bookmark it to keep the dental questions list handy when I need them. thanks for the nice work.
No problem, feel free to pick those you need to get a better idea of your future dentist 😉