How to choose a Great Dentist

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There are many dentists to choose from, but finding a great dentist can be a challenge. What makes a good dental practitioner could be a combination of characteristics including; education, experience, personality, attention-to-detail, cost and convenience. It’s said that you don’t know a great dentist until you find one. But once you do, patients have been known to fly across the country to put their oral health in the hands of a true professional. It is very more important to find a great dentist. We’ll provide you resources and tips to aid you in your search for a great dentist. Remember not all dentists are created equally.

Nine Dental specialities

First, what kind of dentist do you need? Many times the ‘dentist’ is used to refer to all different types of oral health care doctors. The Yankee Dental Association (ADA) acknowledges 9 dental specialities. Many dentists are skilled in more than one dental speciality. Here is a list of the nine dental specialities and a brief description for each one.

General Dentist: A general dentist graduates with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) indicates the degree awarded upon graduation from dental school to become a general dentist. There is no difference between the two degrees. General dentists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. Your general dentist is typically the first doctor you will see for dental exams and bi-annual cleanings.

Endodontist: Endodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes on the internal structure of the teeth and surrounding tissue. They focus primarily on procedures related to the soft tissue, gums, tendons and roots of the teeth. If you are in need of root canal therapy your general dentist will most likely refer you to an Endodontist.

Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology: This specialty of dentistry is entirely focused on production of images to help diagnose and manage oral disease. They help diagnose a wide variety of diseases in the oral and maxillofacial region through the use of X-rays, CT Scans, MRIs and imaging technology.

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeon: An oral surgeon operates on disease, injuries and defects in the mouth, jaw and face, diagnosed by oral and maxillofacial radiologists. Generally the surgeon will operate through surgical extraction and reconstruction.

Oral Pathologist: Oral pathology is the specialty of dentistry that deals with the identification and management of diseases that affect your mouth and face. The doctors investigate the causes and effects of oral diseases. These specialists admit clinical, radiographic, microscopic and biochemical examinations for diagnosis.

Orthodontist: is that the dental specialty that features the diagnosing, prevention, interception, and correction of disorder, also as fibre bundle and skeletal abnormalities. Orthodontists focus on the alignment of the teeth, both for cosmetic reasons and health issues such as impacted teeth, overbites and under bites.

Pediatric Dentist: Pediatric dentistry is an age-defined specialty of dentistry. A pediatric dentist works exclusively with children, adolescents and young adults. They provide comprehensive dental treatment but focus on the developing mouth. The developing mouth is different than that of an adult and requires specialized attention.

Periodontist: Periodontics encompasses the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontists maintain the health, function and esthetic of your gums, bone or other tissues that support your teeth.

Prosthodontist: Prosthodontics specializes in missing or deficient teeth using materials to replace or repair the teeth. If you have missing teeth a prosthodontist will diagnose and provide oral structure replacements.

Education & Experience

Education and experience are two of the most important criteria when evaluating the right dentist for you and your family. Every doctor will have a biography listed on their website with a list of their degrees and accomplishments. The dental field is large; there are many organizations academies for the doctor’s to participate in. These academies offer continuing education that keeps the participating doctors current on advances in the field. Dentists like other doctors are required to obtain up to 20 hours of continuing education every year in the state of Michigan. Compare doctors side by side and do your research. In addition to biographies on practice websites, you can search third-party sites for more information about the dentist. A simple Google search for the doctor by name can reveal a lot. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask the doctor questions; such as how many years have they been practising? Where did they get their training? What organizations do they belong to? A qualified dentist will appreciate you asking these questions, it lets them know you’re an educated patient and not base your decision solely on cost or convenience.

Ask for a Referral

Word of mouth is an innate characteristic of health care. Think about it, if you trust your family members, friends or colleagues than many times they can offer a great referral to their dentist. In addition to asking your friends and family for a dental referral, you can also ask your other health care providers. As noted in the blog post about “The Link Between your Mouth and your Heart,” our entire body’s health is connected. Your family physician is sure to know a great dentist just around the corner.

Before and After Cases can show you a lot about the skills of the doctor. Testimonials from patients can attest not only to the quality of work, but also to the doctor’s chair side manner. Does the dentist make you feel comfortable and relaxed? Does the dentist answer your questions effectively so that you understand your oral health? Does the staff make you feel welcomed? If you feel uncomfortable asking for referrals you can use websites like Facebook, Yelp and HealthGrades to read reviews and information that has been posted by the patients.

Schedule a consultation

As you start to narrow down your choice of dentist we recommend scheduling an appointment. Meeting your potential dentist and their staff one-on-one will give you an immediate feel for their professionalism. This is your time to feel out the staff and ask any important questions. Here are few great questions to ask during your dental consultation:

– Is this the dentist’s practice or does someone else own it? If they’re an owner or co-owner, chances are they’re more invested in their work and reputation.
– How long has the dentist been practising? Don’t sign up with a new dentist. It takes more than two years for a good dentist to really know what he’s doing.

Many consultations only take a few minutes but will provide great insight into your compatibility with the doctor. Your oral health is an important part of your overall health, so take your time in making the right decision.

Other Things to consider

There are many things to consider when finding the best dentist for you. The items listed above are very important, but here are a few more things to consider.

– Cost. Is my insurance accepted by this practice? Are their payment options if necessary?

– Inquire about additional services. It’s always a good idea to ask about what additional services are available from your dentist. Why not choose a dentist that will meet yours and your family’s potential needs through out the years.

– Technology. Is the dentist current with the most advanced technology?

Choosing a dentist may take some time, but finding the right one is well worth it. We hope the information above will help you in your search.