Oral health care affects your overall health whether it’s good or bad. Poor oral health care has been linked to the onset of diabetes, heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and various forms of cancer. Good oral health can reduce your risk of developing such serious health problems over time, yet this still isn’t enough to encourage many people to visit the dentist more regularly. Whether you’ve gone a long time between dental visits or you simply need a new dentist to handle your regularly scheduled check-ups, you must know what to ask when searching for a new dental professional. Your future self will thank you for taking the time to ask these questions.
How long have you practiced dentistry?
You want a dental professional with a long history of dental experience, but that’s not to say you can’t use a brand-new dentist who is good at their job. This is a personal question, and it’s one everyone might feel differently about. You might not have a problem seeing a brand-new dentist if he or she is employed by a longstanding practice you’re familiar with. Some people prefer the experience of a dental professional who has been in business a long time, but a new dental professional backed by a team of experienced professionals is also a wonderful choice.
Do you practice any specialty?
Some dentists have a specialty in addition to general dentistry. For example, you might have kids and live somewhere without a pediatric dentist. If you find a family practice with a dentist who spent a dozen years working as a pediatric dentist elsewhere, you’re getting slightly more bang for your buck. Whatever you feel is the most necessary specialty in a dentist is what you must ask for. You want to know what your dental professional can do, can’t do, and has experience doing, your oral health on the line.
Do you have patient reviews or references I can see?
If you’re looking for a new dentist, you want one with a good reputation with patients. Get numerous recommendations for a good dentist from people you know at work, at home, at your kid’s schools, or anywhere else. Ask people who’ve used the dentist you are considering before you book an appointment.
What kind of insurance do you take?
You’re going to need to speak to a new dental office about the type of insurance they take. It might seem like all dental offices should accept all dental insurance policies, but they don’t. Do not make the mistake of forgoing this question because it can become an expensive mistake. Once you know of a few dental offices to try out, ask around about insurance.
What are your hours and locations?
Some dental offices are small practices with one office, one dentist, and a small team. The small-town feel of an office like this is amazing, but it might not be conducive to your schedule and/or your dental needs. If you have kids and a job, you might not be able to schedule dental appointments for a family of five during the work and school week every six months. You might prefer a weekend visit or a late appointment after traditional office hours.
If you visit a larger dental facility with multiple offices, you might find they have more flexible hours, more flexible schedules, and have a better chance of getting in for last minute appointment if need be.
Do you take new patients and are you able to see the entire family?
If you have kids, you might prefer a pediatric dentist. However, many families prefer to use the same dentist as their kids so they are always together, they can make appointments at the same time, and so the kids are even more familiar with the office. Even if you don’t have kids right now, it’s helpful to ask this question if you know you will in the future. You want a dentist who will see you, your kids, and the entire family. Not all offices have the ability to take new patients any time, they might have a waitlist.
Can I meet with the dentist before we do any dental work?
Ask for an initial consultation to meet with the dental professional, have a conversation, and getting to know him or her. It’s also a great excuse to get to know the people in the office and see it is managed. If you don’t have a good feeling after your visit, you know to keep looking. If you love what you see and how you feel in the office, perhaps you’ve found your new dental home.