Article at a Glance
- When you need to find a new dentist, start with a list of things you’d prefer like location, hours, and specialties they practice.
- Ask friends and family for recommendations or use the ADA’s Find-a-Dentist tool.
- Be prepared with questions at your initial appointment to make sure the dentist is a good fit for you.
Insurance changes, retirements, relocations, or repeated bad service can send you scrambling to find a new dentist. You don’t want just anybody working on your teeth, so you need to know how to choose a good dentist.
How to Find a Dentist
When choosing a dentist, you’ll want to consider several things before starting the search to narrow down the pool. Think about your lifestyle, your dental care needs, and your dental benefits.
- What is your schedule like? Do you need early, late, or weekend hours to accommodate your work schedule?
- Would it be better to have a dentist close to home, work, or both?
- Do you have kids? Would it be helpful to see a dentist who also practices pediatric dentistry to save time with appointments?
- Do you have any other needs like orthodontics, appliances, or require a translator?
- Do you have dental benefits? Is the dentist in-network? Does the dentist offer savings plans that could make services more affordable?
- Talk to friends and family about their dentists for personal, honest reviews.
- Try the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Find-a-Dentist tool.
- If you have dental benefits, contact your provider for a list of in-network dentists.
Questions to Ask When Choosing a Dentist
Part of choosing a dentist is making sure they can meet your needs and that their service offerings align with your treatment requirements going forward. At the initial meeting, be prepared with questions to make sure you are clear about your expectations and the dentist’s expectations.
- What is the dentist’s training and experience? Do they pursue continuing education, certifications, or specialty courses?
- Are there any additional specialty services in the office? Do you want to pursue orthodontics or something cosmetic, like dental veneers?
- Ask them if they explain ways to prevent dental problems or provide dental health education?
- How are emergencies handled in the office? What if they are after hours?
- Do they accept your dental insurance? Do they have other savings or finance options?
- Are there other dentists in the practice? Is there a backup for when your dentist is on vacation, sick, or has an emergency?
- How do they handle missed appointments?
Pay attention to the office and other staff members. You won’t just interact with the dentist at your appointments and you may need additional services at some point. Is the office neat and clean? Does everybody on staff wear gloves and protective gear when working? Is everybody friendly to you?
Remember, this is a relationship that will hopefully last many years and be very personal to your health and well-being. You want to be comfortable and satisfied that your new dentist will provide the level of care you expect.
Getting Started with Your New Dentist
The initial appointment will involve some new patient paperwork, but it’s also a good idea to make sure your dental records are transferred prior to the appointment. This provides your new dentist with important information about the work you’ve had done and any potential concerns noted by your prior dentists. If you are wondering how to get dental records transferred, it’s fairly simple and usually just requires filling out a form.
Be sure to share all concerns about past experiences or any conditions that arose after you last saw your prior dentist. If it’s been a while and you’ve noticed some signs that you could have dental problems, let your new dentist know immediately.
Looking for a new dentist doesn’t have to be difficult if you’re prepared and know what you’re looking for. Often, limiting a search to a specific location or in-network providers will yield a small list that can easily be narrowed down. The most important thing is to be comfortable with the dentist you choose and how they run their practice.
If you’re searching for a new dentist, the friendly team at Jefferson Dental Care can help. Contact the office nearest you to schedule a new patient appointment!
Our Jefferson Dental Content Committee supports our team by educational and informational articles related to what we do, oral care tips, and current events in our communities.