Choosing a New Dentist
You might be new to Delta Dental and want to select an in-network dentist, or maybe you’ve been enrolled for some time but you’ve decided that it’s time to change dentists. For many people, choosing a new dentist comes down to simply polling friends and neighbors for a recommendation.
When you choose a new dentist, you’re making an important decision for you and your family. You are entrusting a key part of your overall wellness to someone with whom you’ve had no prior experience. Some careful observations and a little homework can pay off with a successful patient-dentist relationship that will last for many years. Use these steps as a resource to help you find the right dentist.
First, Establish Basic Criteria
Before you can find a dentist, it’s a good idea to have some basic criteria that are important to you:
- Is location important? For many of us, this means finding a dentist close to home, work or school. It’s easier to keep appointments if the dentist’s office is nearby.
- What core features are you looking for in a dentist? For instance, you many need a dentist who specializes in treating children or who has a handicap-accessible office if you have a disability. Is a dentist who can provide language services or translations a consideration?
- Does your plan require you to visit a network dentist (referred to as a “closed network” plan)? If you are in an open network plan, are the savings that a network dentist can provide important to you? If so, finding a contracted network dentist will be a top consideration.
Second, Search for a Dentist
One of the best ways to find a list of dentists is by using the “Find a Dentist” tool on our website. You can search for dentists near a specific address, by name or by specialty. You can also filter search parameters to include the other requirements you identified in step one. When you find some likely candidates, it’s time to dig deeper.
Click on the name of a specific dentist to see what services and other information he or she provides, such as map, languages spoken, treatment hours and special office features. Many dentists also provide a link to their website if they have one. Our “Find a Dentist” tool helps you expand or narrow your filters to these specifications and more. And while the directory automatically finds network dentists that match your plan design, you can also expand your search to other Delta Dental dentists.*
Third, Work the Phone
A dentist’s website is a great place to start, but you may also want to call the office to do further research on the potential dental offices you’ve found. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- What is the dentist’s educational background and credentials?
- What should I expect during the first exam? The answer should include a conversation with the dentist about your general and oral health history and concerns, including information about any diseases or conditions you have and any medications you are taking. They should also mention that you’ll be given a thorough examination of all teeth, including any restorative work you’ve had done; a thorough check of gum health with a periodontal probe; a check for signs of oral cancer; and x-rays, as needed.
- Will clinic staff review my treatment options and costs before work is done? It’s important to make sure you have the right information, including what’s covered by your dental plan, before making treatment decisions.
- What are the dentist office’s hours, and how are patient emergencies handled outside regular hours? You will want to find a practice with office hours that are convenient for your schedule. It’s also a good idea to inquire about appointment wait times, as many busy practices are scheduled out months in advance. In the case of an emergency, most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or an emergency referral service if they can’t attend to urgent needs.
- How has the dentist kept abreast of new developments in dentistry? Dentists and practice staff use continuing education courses, seminars and trade shows to learn about new techniques and technologies to make sure you have the best treatment options.
Use your conversation as an opportunity to gauge how you are treated by the office staff. A staff of courteous, knowledgeable and friendly people can help alleviate anxiety about a dental procedure and make your visit more efficient and enjoyable.
If you are satisfied with the responses you’ve received, it’s time to make an appointment with the practice you think best meets your needs.
- * Delta Dental PPO allows enrollees the freedom to visit any dentist. If you are a PPO enrollee and you cannot find a convenient PPO dentist, search the Delta Dental Premier network. The DeltaCare USA plan usually does not cover visits to non-network dentists. Refer to your benefit booklet for specific details about your plan.