Top 10 list - finding the best dentist

Author: Jeff Salmeri

top 10 list dentist1.    If you have dental insurance, the dentist must be an IN NETWORK PROVIDER. 

A dentist who is contracted with your insurance will save you money.  Your dental insurance company and the in network providing dentist have agreed on a fee schedule.  If your dentist is not in network you will be paying additional fees determined by your dentist.  Even if your dentist takes your insurance, if they are not an IN NETWORK PROVIDER, they are allowed to charge you any fee they desire.  Their fee is usually much higher than the IN NETWORK PROVIDER fee.

2.     Clean Facility.

Dental offices should operate in a very clean environment.  Everything in the office should be clean, neat and organized.   This is true for the equipment and instruments as well as the supplies, the administration area, the reception area and the bathrooms.  The office should also be handicap accessible.

3.    Modern, high tech equipment.

Today’s dental offices are very different from the old days.  The office you choose should be equipped with digital XRAY’s.  These type of XRAY’s appear instantaneously on the computer screen and allow the doctor to diagnose potential or current problems right away.  They are clearer, easier to manipulate and less radiation is needed.  Other things to consider – does the office have intraoral cameras?  Digital intraoral cameras are video cameras that can be inserted in the patient’s mouth producing a still picture or video of the inside of the mouth.  Is the office paperless?  Are your records electronic - therefore they can be easily be emailed in the event you move away?    Does the office offer music, TV, internet or movies while you are being treated?

4.     Convenient hours.

The dental office of today must be able to meet the demands of busy people.   The office should be open early mornings, afternoons and evenings.  They should also be able to accommodate weekend patients.     A doctor should be available in the event of an emergency and the office personnel should be easily accessible by phone.

5.    Provides multiple services.

Many dental offices are multi specialty practices.  What does this mean for you?  Specialists have been though additional schooling above and beyond that of a general dentist.  Multi specialty means that the office will have a general / family dentist and hygienist as well as specialists.  Specialists could include Endodontist (root canal), Periodontist(experts in gum and bone health) Oral Surgeon, Prosthodontist (specializing in dental prosthetics) and Orthodontist.

6.     Friendly accommodating staff.

Being greeted promptly and properly by a staff member who knows who you are and is prepared for your visit should, perhaps, be the number first item on the list.  The front desk staff has a very important role in your visit.  If they are knowledgeable and efficient your treatment plan and dealing with your insurance company will be smooth.   The back office staff is equally important to you.  They should be attending to you on time – minimal or no waiting.  It is important that they are friendly and aware of you treatment for that day.  The operatory should already be prepared for your visit.  The doctor should explain everything to you and take all the time you need for questions.  At the end of your visit you should be walked out to the front desk.

7.     Meets your needs.

The office should fully satisfy your individual needs.  This means that is you are nervous - they should be sympathetic.  If you need sedation – they can and will provide it to you.  If you have a difficult schedule they can make it work for you.   Whatever your concerns are should be the primary interests of the dental office.  Your health and well being is what matters most and the dental office should make that apparent.

8.     Product availability.

In the event that the dentist recommends special toothpaste, floss, rinse or toothbrush it should be readily available for you to buy in the office.  There are numerous products available in which the dentist will suggest using at home.  These products should be available and sold to you (discounted) at the time of your visit.  If it is a prescription you need, the staff should have it for you and offer to send it (or call it in) to the pharmacy of your choice. 

9.     Check the reviews.

The internet is a powerful tool.  There is no better way to find the best dentist in your area then to read about the experiences other people have had.   Search for the dentists in your area and look for reviews.  Make sure the reviews are certified by Google or some other prominent search engine (you don’t want to be reading reviews written by the dentist and his staff).  Remain open minded and read the reviews that most pertain to the treatment you are seeking. 

10.     Credibility.

Check the dentists credentials.  Be sure they are a member in good standing with the American Dental Association (ADA).  They should also be affiliated with a state dental society.   If there are any questions the ADA is very helpful. 

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