Locating a new dentist typically is toward the bottom of the list of things to do after a move for most people. Moving is stressful enough without wading through a sea of names as you try to find a new dentist for your family. When you are ready to start the process there are several things you can do to help you evaluate potential dentists.
Quality dentists, including those not currently under review for malpractice, will be able to be listed with the American Dental Association. The ADA website will easily link you to a list of providers in your state. Furthermore, each state has its own dental association so search “(your state) dental association” to find it. The website should give you a good list. Of course, the user friendliness of each state’s website will vary by state but each should be equipped with a search function. If a providers list is not linked on the site’s home page the search function should help you find it more quickly. Many state dental associations also list low cost dental clinics and/or dental or hygienist’s schools which may even offer some free services.
A dental practice is just like any other business in that some are very well run and others are not so professional. A quick check of the BBB will reveal any complaints against the dentist and if they were handled in a timely and satisfactory manner. A non-listing should be noted but is not cause for great alarm. A BBB listing means a dental practice has gone through the BBB’s process of accreditation.
If you have dental insurance your company will have a list of providers. If your dental insurance company has a patient advocate, you could also ask for their recommendation. Be aware, however, just because a provider is on the list does not mean the practice is accepting new patients. You likely will have to call each dental practice individually.
Before moving, you should ask for a reference to a new dentist. If you did not, doctors, co-workers, parishioners at church, and wait staff are great places to find references. Wait staff? Think about it. The waiters, waitresses, host, and hostesses at the local diner is usually in the know about just about every service a town offers especially in small towns. Quite often they serve the very dentist you are hoping to find. They can also be a great resource to let you know which local dentists are not a good fit for your family.
The Benefits And Drawbacks Of An Internet Search
Let’s face finding things including good family dentists is so much easier with the internet. Most search engines are even equipped with an auto-complete feature to anticipate our needs. It does not come much easier than that. Then former and current patients provide all sorts or colorful reviews—both positive and negative—about a particular dentist. Online reviews can be a good source of information but consider they are not necessarily fully reflective of the services of the dentist as much as they are the views of a particular patient. One or even two negative reviews are likely nothing more than an isolated incident. Multiple negative reviews or even a single one outlining misconduct or malpractice issues should be a huge red flag. However, an over-abundance of glowing reviews could also be an easily overlooked red flag. Common sense dictates that any healthcare provider has had a patient experience go so awry the patient has left an online complaint. It is the nature of healthcare and patients who are experiencing discomfort.
Taking A Bite Out Of The List
Now what do you do that you have a good list of potential dentists for your family? Most people are not aware their choice of dentist has a direct impact on their future health. Dental care is the first line of defense against heart disease, diabetes, and dementia. That’s right! Research has proven a direct link between dental health and systemic diseases. A dentist who is only interested in filling cavities without assessing the impact of your oral health on the rest of your body is not the dentist for you. Keeping your family healthy starts with quality family dentistry.
Ask For An Interview
When you call a local dental practice, the front desk staff is a good indication of the tone of the practice. A helpful receptionist is a good sign. When you ask for an interview, if the person on the other end of the phone puts up any sort of fuss at all thank him or her for their time and cross that practice off your list. Perhaps that sounds drastic. The person could legitimately be having a bad or stressful day which is in no way associated with the culture the dentist has set for his practice. But, like online reviews the reception staff gives you clues about the practice. Regardless of how the phone call goes if the answer is no or the dentist is too busy for prospective patients just move to the next name on the list.
The Last Bite
Once you have whittled your list down, call again for a consultation appointment for you or one of your family members. Some dentists offer free consultations so ask about that option. If they do not offer them, ask about the cost before you arrive for the appointment. Be clear that you are only looking for a consultation and do not expect any services to be rendered. Meeting your family’s new dentist in person is crucial especially if you need extensive work. You need to be comfortable with the person whose hands will be in your mouth. Trust your gut. This is definitely time for the adage, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” As you are visiting with the dentist consider your whole family. Choosing someone to fit the needs of every family member is important.
This appears to be a lot of work just to make sure you and your family have a great local dentist where you can have your teeth cleaned a couple of times a year. However, your dental health is worth this effort. Should you develop a cavity or chip a tooth that is when following these steps are really going to pay off.