Five tips for choosing a dentist
- Know your dental health benefits. Your choice of dentist could be determined by your dental health plan. Dental HMOs, for example, limit your choice of dentist to a member of the HMO network. If you have a PPO plan, visiting a network dentist can make a difference in your copayment levels. (If you have a Delta Dental plan, see the sidebar for more details.)
- Ask others for recommendations. Ask family, friends, neighbors or coworkers what they like about their dentist, or ask your physician for a referral. You also may wish to ask for a list of local dentists who are members of professional associations, such as the American Dental Association (ADA), Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) or a local dental society such as the California Dental Association.
- Factor in accessibility. Do you prefer a dentist location near your workplace or your home? How flexible can you be when it comes to scheduling appointments? How important is it for your dentist to have office hours on Saturdays? You will want to convey this information to a prospective dentist and dentist office staff.
- Meet for a consultation. When you have a list of prospective dentists, call or visit several before making an appointment. Ask if he or she a member of organized dentistry (such as ADA or AGD), and find out which dental procedures are completed in-office and which are referred out. Also, ask how far in advance you need to schedule regular checkups or cleanings.
- Evaluate the dentist after an appointment. During your initial visit, check the office to make sure it’s clean, neat and orderly. How courteous are staff members? Do they handle your private medical and dental history with care? How child-friendly is the office?
After you leave, consider these questions: Were the office location and hours convenient? Would you feel comfortable asking this dentist questions? Would you trust his or her recommendations or referrals?