You’ve recently moved; your dental coverage has changed; your current dentist just isn’t the perfect fit – whatever your reasons for searching for a new dental care provider, make sure you’re doing your research. Properly vetting your new dentist and knowing what you want while you’re looking can help reduce the anxiety of finding a new provider and keep your dental health on track.
Know Your Benefits
Like healthcare coverage, dental coverage varies between plans. Understanding your individual dental needs can help you choose a dentist that will fit within your budget; for example, if you have a high deductible, look for a dentist who can offer referrals to specialists within your care network. This will help keep your costs down and make visits to your dentist less stressful.
While you’re searching, consider the accessibility of your dental provider. For example, if you’re used to public transit, look for dental offices close to your preferred method of transportation, and make it easier for yourself to visit your dentist in an emergency.
Ask for Recommendations
Asking for recommendations can help narrow your search considerably. Even reading online reviews can give you a sense of the type of clientele serviced by your new potential provider.
- Your current dentist can give you recommendations of doctors he or she knows that are within your care network or who may be nearby or more easily accessible. Your current dentist also knows your mouth better than anyone, so he or she can help you search for a new doctor that can treat your individual needs.
- Friends and family are a better resource than you may think. You might also consider chatting with your coworkers, who presumably have the same or similar dental health coverage. Finding trusted sources and asking them what they like or don’t like about their current dentists can help you determine what’s right for you.
Consider a Specialist
If you have specific dental needs, upcoming dental work, or any other special requirements, consider choosing a dentist that has had additional training in a dental discipline. For example, if you have upcoming dental surgery, look for a dentist who has had specialized training in tooth extractions or endodontics. While your general dentist can refer you to specialists if necessary, you may feel more comfortable sticking with one doctor who can service multiple needs. If you have children, look for a pediatric dentist, a dentist who has received training specifically for treating children.
Ask for a Consultation
Before permanently selecting a dentist, ask for an initial consultation. Most dental practices offer the “first appointment consultation” as a sort of trial opportunity for both the patient and the doctor, as a way to get to know each other, asses the patient’s needs, and determine if this particular relationship will work. Remember, you’ll see your dentist twice yearly at the very least, so it’s important to choose someone who makes you feel comfortable and safe. If, during or after an initial consultation, you feel uncomfortable for any reason, it’s probably a sign that this is not the right provider for you. If you have children, make sure you’re able to spend some time in the exam room with them and the dentist. Stay vigilant and keep searching: a good fit is out there.