When it comes to your dental care, you want to find a dentist you can trust. Someone who will take care of your teeth, be upfront and honest about what it will take to fix your teeth and offer you care at an affordable price.
But how do you find a dentist? Below we address some important questions that come up when trying to find a dentist. We hope these answers will help you find a dentist near you.
Where Do I Find a Dentist?
Finding a dentist who is close to where you live and accepts your dental insurance or discount dental plan can be challenging. That’s why it’s important to start with your dental insurance or dental plan provider. They will have a list of in-network providers on their website. Try here first.
Enter in your zip code or city, specifying the type of dentist you need (we’ll talk more about this later), which should lead you to a list of dentists in your area that accept your plan.
Once you have pulled up the list, write a few of their names down.
What Should I Look for in a Dentist?
After you have written down a few of these dentists’ names, it’s time to find some reviews. Type each dentist’s name (or practice) into a search engine like Google or Bing, followed by “reviews.” For example:
For my search, I didn’t even need to enter the city. Google knows your location and will usually pull up the dentists closest to you.
Doing this, you will be able to read current reviews of the dentist and see if this is a dentist you want to try for yourself. When reading reviews, look for the positive but also consider the negative.
Does the Dentist’s Title Matter?
As you’re searching for a dentist, you may wonder about their title. You’ll often see DDS or DMD tacked onto the end of their name. What’s the difference?
Either title, you’ll be happy to know, means they graduated from an accredited dental school, so not to worry there. DDS means Doctor of Dental Surgery and DMD means Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine. These are the same dental degrees, but are worded differently based on the university your dentist graduated from.
Finally, you may encounter other titles based on your search–the type of dentist they are. There are several different types of dentists, each specializing in different areas. You will most likely need a General Dentist, but there are other specialities you may need, too. These include:
- Oral Surgeon – specializes in surgery, infections and tooth extractions.
- Endodontist – specializes in the roots and surrounding pulp inside the tooth
- Orthodontist – specializes in adjusting teeth using braces and retainers
- Periodontist – specializes in gums and gum disease
- Prosthodontist – specializes in false teeth such as dentures and bridges
- Pedodontist – specializes in children’s dentistry and baby teeth
A general dentist is helpful for routine visits and can address some of these specialty areas, as well. If a type of procedure is needed that your general dentist can’t perform, he/she will refer you to a specialist.
For example, when I needed my wisdom teeth removed, my general dentist recognized the problem with my wisdom teeth and made note of the need to have these removed and then referred me to an oral surgeon for the actual procedure.
At the First Appointment
Next, call the dentist, make sure they accept your plan (it’s always good to double-check!) and schedule an appointment.
There are a few things to consider at that first appointment to determine whether this is the right dentist for you.
- Your First Impression. Some questions you might ask to gauge your first impression include:
- How did scheduling the appointment go? Was it difficult to get in? Was the receptionist kind and open to answering your questions?
- How is the atmosphere of the office upon your first appointment? Does it feel welcoming? Is the staff helpful? Is the office clean and organized?
- How long is your wait? I wouldn’t base too much of your decision on this after just one visit because things do come up at dental visits that may be out of your dentist’s control, but I would pay attention to this if it becomes a recurring problem.
- Pain Level. Does your dentist work to make your dental visit a comfortable one? Or is he/she rough when performing dental work?
- Cleanliness of Equipment. Does their equipment look clean? Don’t be afraid to ask about how they sterilize their equipment.
- Hygiene. Does your dentist replace his/her gloves between patients and after rummaging through drawers? Pay attention to details like this.
- The Extras. Does your dentist recommend extreme and unnecessary procedures? If you’re unsure, consider getting a second opinion. Does he/she try to upsell you products you know you don’t need? A lot of dental offices do this these days. I would be more concerned about how pushy they are about the extras. Does your dentist require full payment on your dental work before your dentist does the work? While not a requirement of a good dentist, it’s nice to find a dentist who is willing to work out a payment plan for you if you need one.
- Dental Work. Finally, how was the work you received? If fillings come out, crowns come loose or your teeth don’t feel clean after a cleaning, you may not be in the right place.
Do Dentists Charge the Same for Dental Work?
Dental prices vary based on the dentist you see and the state you live in. For example, dental work in California is going to be much more expensive than dental work in Texas. This correlates with the cost of living and income of each state.
Dentist’s determine the cost of dental work based on the actual treatment performed, the time it took to complete the treatment, materials needed, as well as office fees, which are significant. This could include paying for office space, staff salaries, quality equipment, dental materials and continuing education for the office’s dental team so they stay up-to-date on the latest techniques.
This is where dental insurance or discount dental plans can help. They’ll cut costs for you at the dental office so you don’t have to pay full price.
Was this helpful? How did you find your dentist?