What to look for in a family dentist
It is generally acknowledged that more than 46 percent of consumers do not have a general dentist. The Academy of General Dentistry has developed these guidelines to help consumers identify qualities to look for when selecting a general dentist.
1. Ask around Ask your friends, local family members and coworkers who their dentist is. If you have just moved and are new to the community, contact national or local dental groups for a referral to a dentist in your community.
Another alternative for a referral is to call the Academy of General Dentistry in Chicago. The members of the Academy of General Dentistry are dedicated to continuing dental education as a means of providing the best possible care to the patient and keep up to date with the latest trends in dentistry.
"The best way to find a dentist is to ask around," says Joseph Perno, DDS, FAGD, and vice president of the Academy of General Dentistry. "Friends or coworkers are going to refer someone (a dentist) with whom they are comfortable, happy and trust."
2. Schedule a consultation. If you are nervous or unsure, request a consultation with the dentist. Ask to see the dental office. Most dentists are happy to discuss treatment options and plans with potential patients. It is important to establish a good dentist/patient relationship right from the beginning.
Insurance coverage, billing procedures and payment plans may be discussed at this time.
"Consultations are very important," says Dr. Perno. "It's the patient's opportunity to ask questions so they are comfortable."
3. Test the dentist's credentials and knowledge Ask if the dentist is involved in organized dentistry through the local dental society or the Academy of General Dentistry. Continuing education is essential in dentistry because technology is ever-changing. It is important that your dentist keeps up to date on current dental trends and techniques.
Academy of General Dentistry members are required to take a minimum of 75 hours of continuing education courses every three years as part of their membership maintenance; however, most Academy members surpass the membership requirements for continuing education.
4. Start with something simple After the consultation, set up an appointment for a simple cleaning. Use this appointment to get a feel for the office. Are they thorough in administrating the procedures and treatments? Is the staff devoted to quality care? Do you think the staff is personable? Did they spend enough time with you and answer all your questions? Do they make you feel important? Are they accommodating to your schedule?
5. Be comfortable It is essential that the patient feels comfortable with the dentist and the dental office. If you have a good experience with your initial visit, it is a good indicator that this office is a good match for your needs.
Open communication is key to good oral hygiene and to continue a good dentist/patient relationship. Concerns as well as praises need to be communicated to the dentist.