By Susan Braden
In many growing cities around the US, low cost dental centers are becoming more available. One reason for the wide appeal of these dentistry clinics may be because there is no need to commit to a single dentist. However, these clinics still have their cons when compared to private practices, despite their many pros.
Most people do not know there are differences between dentistry centers and private offices. However, upon greater examination, you will find that they are not the same and they are designed differently and each provide different terms and services. Centers are often designed like large corporations, and often have locations in many areas. Private practices, however, are typically one office owned by one dentist or a small group of dentists.
Pros: These dental centers have many benefits. There are several general dentists on staff at one location, which offers patients easy access to care for emergencies. Other benefits include board-certified specialists on staff for services such as orthodontics, oral surgery and periodontics. These clinics are helpful for those who prefer to visit just one office for all their dentistry needs, without having to move from location to location! They often accept walk-in patients as well as broader forms of payment plans such as insurance, discount plans, and even government-assisted programs.
Cons: The clinics are designed to get you the assistance you need and then move on to the next person in line, which causes the dentist-patient relationship to be less personable. They also often employ an answering service or call center to set appointments for patients.
Pros: A private practice might be thought of as a helpful neighbor down the street. These dentists typically have regular patients who they see consistently to address their general dentistry needs. Because of this, a private general dentist will know your oral history as a person, not just as a chart! If you do not enjoy quick, impersonal dental visits, a private practice may be the better option for you.
Cons: You may have to wait a significant period of time to actually see the dentist when you try to set an appointment, because the office has an established patient database. Many of the dentists do not accept walk-ins and are limited by the type of insurance, discount, or government-assisted programs they accept. Some do not accept any type of plan, and make patients submit any claims to their insurances on their own. In addition, most private practices only focus on one area of dentistry, so any oral problem outside of the general dentist's expertise will require a specialist visit, at which the patient must go to a different location to see a different dentist.
In the end, the type of dentist office that you choose may depend on your personality and what you believe to be most important for your specific oral needs. Visiting a low cost center may be exceptionally helpful if you have a busy lifestyle or if your family is on a budget, but your visits may lack the personal relationship that you might find at a private practice. Both types of dentist offices are designed to provide quality dentistry work for healthy teeth and pretty smiles, but their atmospheres are very different. If you are pressed for time, and if convenience is your priority, a low cost center may be the best option for your oral needs. However, if you prefer a warmer relationship with your dentist and a more personable environment, a private practice may be the best help to you.