6 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Dentist

MISTAKE #1: Choosing a Dentist Based on Price, Location or Availability

Having low prices, a location that’s close to home or immediate availability IS NOT the first thing you should look for in a dental office. Your first step should always be verifying that the dentist and staff is properly trained and capable of providing superior preventative dental care and treating advanced conditions of disease and decay.

Here are some important qualities to look for:

Dentist Training:

It’s important to inquire about the dentist’s clinical experience and training with any of the procedures you may require.

Patient Comfort:

Ask if the office has amenities to make your treatment more comfortable, such as nitrous oxide, or other advanced technology.

Fees and Payment Plans:

Know if the office accepts your dental insurance, and how much your out of pocket expense may be.

Ask for Recommendations:

Check for the office reviews. Also, ask for a list of local dentists who are members of professional associations such as the ADA or a local dental society. You can also check online reviews of other patients of the office.

Meet for a Consultation:

When you have a list of prospective dentists, call or visit before making an appointment. Ask if he or she is a member of organized dentistry (such as the ADA) and find out which dental procedures are completed in-office and which are referred out. Also, how far in advance you need to schedule regular checkups or cleanings.

During your initial visit, check the office to make sure it’s clean, neat and orderly. How courteous are staff members? Do they handle your private medical and dental history with care? How child friendly is the office? Can you expect prompt attention from a front office receptionist that treats you with respect?

Other Considerations:

– Does the entire team, including the dentist, demonstrate good communication skills?

– Would you feel comfortable asking this dentist questions?

– Would you trust his or her recommendations or referrals?

– Does this office have Digital radiography to decrease un-necessary exposure to radiation?

– Do they have the latest technologies, such as laser to detect cavities, digital radiography, intraoral cameras to show you existing conditions in your mouth?

– Do they guarantee reliable service and promote optimum health as opposed to being just another customer that comes and goes?

Your best defense is doing your homework to find a well-rounded, properly trained and licensed dental team that has your best interests in mind at all times. Ask questions and do your homework and you will find a match that’s right for you and your needs. Remember… you get what you pay for.

MISTAKE #2: Choosing a Dentist Based on a Really Low Advertised Price

You wouldn’t jump out of an airplane relying on a discount parachute, right? If you plan on keeping your teeth, you shouldn’t trust your dental health and smile to a dentist who’s only redeeming quality is a discount bargain deal!

Here are THREE REASONS why this can be disastrous:

  1. You could very well be walking into the classic bait and switch scam where a shady dentist offers a super low priced special but withholds the costly fine details until after they have you in their chair.
  2. Low price often equals the bare minimum care that can leave you vulnerable to disease and decay.
  3. It’s likely that you’ll receive poor care from an inexperienced and untrained dental team.

Why fall for a cheaper than dirt advertisement that will force you to spend more for the service you really want or need when there are experienced dental teams that have your best interest in mind from the get-go?

MISTAKE #3: Choosing a Dentist Based on a Single Telephone Call

Toothaches and pain can play a big part in making bad decisions; so, remember this should be a business deal not an emotional encounter. Don’t choose the first dentist with an available appointment. Do your research first.

You can avoid falling victim to high-pressure, fear inducing tactics by taking the following precautions:

  1. Ask questions and demand clear communication from the beginning. If a dentist cannot or will not explain what your specific conditions are, show you proof with x-rays, mirrors or photos, and discuss alternatives or options with you before pressuring you into an expensive treatment or procedure, walk away and find a dentist that will.
  2. Request a written quote or to see an itemized list of services with prices included before agreeing to any treatment.
  3. Don’t let your pain overshadow the importance of your consumer rights by accepting less than you want or need.
  4. Call around and meet with several dentists until you find one that you trust and who can truly meet your needs.

MISTAKE #4: Settling for a Dentist Who Doesn’t Bestow the Courtesies You Deserve

Doesn’t it just make sense that as a valued patient every dentist should give you the courtesy and respect you deserve? Common courtesies are often overlooked through the initial selection process, but they’re at the top of the list for complaints.

Here are some do’s and don’ts for choosing a dentist that promotes a positive dental experience:

DON’T choose an office that:

  • Lacks open and honest communication
  • Radiates chaos and confusion
  • Lectures or belittles you
  • Pressures you into expensive treatments

DO choose a dental team that:

  • Keeps you fully informed and offers experienced advice that always has your best interests in mind
  • Respects your time
  • Treats you with complete respect
  • Takes your financial limitations into consideration

MISTAKE #5: Choosing a Dentist Without Getting the Real Scoop from Other Patients

Too many people fall victim to low-ball prices and quick talking dental teams who exaggerate their experience and skill level. All too often, only a sliver of truth has been spoken. Never choose a dentist on their word alone. Make sure you ask for references. If no reference is made available to you, go online and search for comments and feedback from current and past patients.

This is critical to relieving worries about unnecessary treatments, inflated fees and quality of dental care. This little bit of extra time and effort can save you from a lot of hassle and heartache.

MISTAKE #6: Choosing a Dental Team That is Not Certified, Licensed or Properly Trained

While you can easily verify that your dentist is licensed to practice in your state as a Doctor of Dental Surgery or Dental Medicine, what do you know about the rest of the team? Without a trained team of assistants and licensed hygienists, it’s patient beware.

Here are just a few common reasons why:

Improper preparation of materials and poorly processed x-rays may impede the process and unnecessarily extend your visit and/or discomfort.

Risk of poorly sterilized instrument and equipment can cause infection.

Neglectful or excessive billing mistakes will increase your dental costs.

Providing substandard preventative care can hurt your long term oral and overall health.

Ask your dentist about the dental team, about the training they have had and how long they have been with the dental office. Ask the staff how happy they are working for the dentist and with the other staff members.

Who is the most important member of your dental team? You are!

Even with the very best dental care, if you don’t do your part, the health of your teeth and gums is at risk. Although personal dental hygiene practices differ depending on the general condition of your mouth and gums, the following three steps are crucial.

  1. Brush your teeth after every meal, at least two times a day. Floss at least once a day.
  2. Eat a well-balanced diet. Good nutrition helps you maintain healthy teeth.
  3. Have your teeth examined and cleaned every six months—more if you have gum disease or other conditions that place you at greater risk of oral health problems.