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How to Choose a Dentist

Most of us understand the importance of good dental care, but only a select few know how to choose a quality dentist that can provide excellent services for their family. Failing to properly research a dentist before an appointment may have a damaging effect on your health. For example, if a poorly trained dentist is not skilled in preventing oral infections, you may be at risk for developing life-changing conditions like stoke, diabetes, and heart/lung disease. Avoid jeopardizing your family’s health by choosing an outstanding dentist who exceeds the criteria detailed below.

How to Choose a Dentist

Dental Philosophy

An outstanding dental practice is one that is a true family practice. The ultimate goal of the dentist office should be to provide the absolute best care to the patients and the friends and family that they refer to the practice. One way that an excellent dentist delivers unprecedented care is to encourage patients to become involved in the dental process. A skilled dentist will thoroughly explain the results of an exam so that you guys can work together to develop a treatment plan that is consistent with your budget and timeline. A treatment’s risks, alternatives, and benefits should also be explained to the patient in your family.
Professional Credentials

One of the most important qualities to consider when searching for a new dentist is his/her professional credentials. The dentist’s training and state board licensure should be displayed somewhere in the office. If these credentials are not easily seen, don’t hesitate to ask the staff for these documents. Before scheduling any appointments, the patient must know if the dentists has received proper education and whether there has been any disciplinary action taken against them.
Although every state requires a certain number of continuing education hours each year, excellent dentists will take many classes to exceed the state minimum. The dentist’s interest in completing more classes than the requirement number for licensure often indicates that he/she is knowledgeable in the most advanced technological developments in their field.


While dental philosophy and professional credentials are essential considerations, the personality of the dentist also ranks high on the list of importance. A great dentist will be able to understand your concerns, listen as you explain your symptoms, and patiently answer all of your questions. He/she will also be eager to learn about your daily activities, family, and other interests. As they are performing a dental procedure, many outstanding dentists will also let you know that their services can benefit the entire family.

Excellent Personal Care

Make sure that the dentist that you choose provides the best quality of care. Before proceeding with any treatment, the dentist should review your complete medical history to know your allergies, sensitivities, and possible drug interactions. By using state-of-the-art materials, the dentist should complete the procedure along with an oral cancer screening and gum disease examination. While the gum disease examination primarily focuses on the gums, an oral can screening will involve the tongue, throat, neck, lips, mouth, tissues, and gums.

The dentist should also perform periodontal probing to check the six points on each tooth. A thorough examination also includes checking for decay using the dental pic and correct bite.
The dentist should always abide by the OSHA guidelines for infection control, which stresses the importance of using gloves, a mask, and sterilized equipment during a procedure.
The dentist’s ability to provide above average care will protect your family’s health in the long-run.

Office Hours

In order to ensure that your time is not wasted, consider choosing a dental practice that is close to your work or home. When your dentist office is easily accessible, you will increase the likelihood of arriving to appointments on time. Additionally, make sure that the office is open on the days and hours that you would like to schedule your appointments.
Does the dentist offer emergency care? If you have an emergency that occurs outside normal business hours, a reputable dentist should not refer you to a hospital emergency room. The dentist or a suitable substitute should be reached by phone or pager to handle the emergency at night or on a weekend.


The cost of dental services can vary widely by practice; as a result, you must research the dentist’s charges for common procedures like cavity fillings, root canal, and crowns. Along with checking the cost of services, it’s also a good idea to know the type of payment that they will accept. Will the dental practice accept your insurance? Can I pay with a credit card or check? Does the office offer payment plans? These are all important questions to ask.

Where to Find a Great Dentist

Family and Friends
Perhaps the best resource for finding a great dentist are family and friends. They are more keen to provide you with an honest review as compared to a stranger. They can also provide you feedback about the dentist’s personality, the approximate appointment waiting times, and the general vibe of the office. Most importantly, your family and friends can let you know if the dental practice is suitable for all members of the family including children and grandparents.

The Local Hospital
Many hospitals in your local area have dental clinics. If the hospital near you doesn’t have a dental clinic, they can surely recommend a dentist in your region.

The Dental Insurance
Virtually every dental insurance company will offer names of providers who have offices in your location. These dentists should accept your insurance.

The Dental Association
Known as a hidden gem, The Dental Association or the ADA has a database of dentists who are in their organization. Although holding a membership doesn’t necessarily guarantee great care, this resource can be very useful.

The Nearest Dental School
Despite common belief, most dental schools provide excellent family dental services at its clinic. The procedures are usually performed by dental students and residents who are supervised by the dentists who are instructors at the school. Contrary to private practices that accept insurance, the services at the dental school are often extremely affordable.

Many reputable dentists have public profiles online that have received many reviews. Although you shouldn’t rely solely on information from the Internet, you may want to examine the reviews from a website to understand the patients’ experience with the prospective dentist. Make sure that you use professional sites when searching for a review.

According to many recent studies, maintaining healthy gums and teeth can promote optimal wellbeing. Knowing this profound information, it’s important that you understand how to choose a dentist that will positively contribute to your family’s overall physical and emotional health including their self-confidence and self-worth. Once you have reviewed these guidelines, you should meet with any prospective dentists for a consultation. After the meetings, make sure that you have a favorable response to questions like “Are the staff members respectful and courteous?” “How child-friendly is the office?” “How far in advance should an appointment be scheduled?” As you begin to reflect on your research and the consultation, you will have peace on mind knowing that you are choose the right dentist for your family.


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