You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore, you should find someone you can be comfortable with. To find a suitable dentist to meet your needs, consider asking the following questions as a starting point:
What are the office hours? Are they convenient for your schedule?
Is the office easy to get to from work or home?
Where was the dentist educated and trained?
What’s the dentist’s approach to preventive dentistry?
How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable during any necessary dental treatment?
What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.)
Is information provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? If you are comparison shopping, ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, an oral exam and cleaning, and filling a cavity.
Does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?
What is the dentist’s office policy on missed appointments?
Finding a Dentist
When you’re searching for a dentist, the American Dental Association (ADA) offers these suggestions:
Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for their recommendations.
Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
If you’re moving, ask your current dentist to make a recommendation.
Contact your local or state dental society. The ADA provides a list of local and state dental societies on its web site, www.ada.org. Your local and state dental societies also may be listed in the telephone directory under “dentists” or “associations.”
Because dental assistance programs vary from state to state, contact your state dental society to find out if there are programs in your area. Dental school clinics are another source of lower-cost dental care. A list of dental school clinics is provided by the ADA. Generally, dental costs in school clinics cover materials and equipment. Your state dental society can tell you if there is a dental school clinic in your area.