- For many people, choosing a dentist poses a real challenge. It’s not easy to decide whom to trust with one’s dental anxieties, oral health, and overall well-being. Is the dentist gentle? Knowledgeable? Affordable? Here is a simple 5 criteria guide to help people find a dentist that will make them feel at ease, happy and comfortable.
Criteria One: The Staff
- Are they nice? Many things can be taught in this world, but it’s really hard to teach someone to be nice. If the staff isn’t nice on the phone, when you enter the office, and as you leave, think twice. Part of easing a person’s dental anxiety involves working with nice, caring people. A good dentist hires nice people. This may sound simple and straight forward, but all too often I hear of stories from people who went to a dental office, met rude staff, and continued to proceed with their appointments thinking the dentist is separate from their staff. This is not the case. The staff are extensions of the dentist. Therefore, if you except being treated by people who are not nice, then try not to complain when you finally realize you are frustrated with that dental office after several appointments of satisfying your curiosity.
Criteria Two: The Degree
- The value of an education is paramount especially in the dental field. Interestingly, not one dental school offers an identical education. Each one exposes their students to different experiences and approaches to tackling dental disease. Much of this is due to where the dental school is located. Most Midwest dental school degrees may not capture a patient’s attention when they enter an office, however, the dentists emerging from these schools have excellent hands on education with patients. Whereas some dental schools are located in rich neighborhoods and/or are affiliated with prestigious undergraduate colleges and universities, which in turn have fewer patients for their students to learn from. As such, the bottom line is patient exposure. The less patients dental students diagnose and treat, the less knowledge and expertise they will have to offer their patients as dentists. So divorce oneself from labels and aim your confidence towards location and you increase your chances of being happy in your dental home as humbling as this may seem.
Criteria Three: The Referrals
- Most dentists do not and should not do every dental procedure on their own. Often they outsource or “refer” certain procedures–root canals, gum surgery, dental implants, pediatrics, etc. A dentist who prides her/himself with the quality of dentists she/he refers to is significant. However, a dentist who knows when to refer a patient is more important and the mark of a good dentist. They will save you unnecessary anxiety, time in and out of the dental chair, and result in a higher diagnosis and treatment success rate. So, if a dentist advertises himself or herself as a one-stop shop, be weary.
Criteria Four: The Diagnosis
- In criteria 2 and 3 the words diagnose and diagnosis were mentioned. The ability to accurately diagnose is truly the mark of a great dentist. And sometimes, a patient needs to be patient to allow a dentist to make a good diagnosis. A person seeking healthcare should rarely be in a rush to treat until a precise diagnosis is made. The nice thing about dentistry is there that are very few things regarding a person’s oral health that can’t be accurately diagnosed prior to any form of treatment. However, good diagnosis extends beyond what a dentist sees when he/she looks a set of radiographs and in a person’s mouth. Choose a dentist who cares about your dental health in addition to the affordability of the dental care that is treatment planned. A way to evaluate this is to listen and see if a dentist provides a buffet of treatments and eventually narrows them down for you rather than a few treatment options period. Be informed before anything is performed!
Criteria Five: The Cost
- Before deciding whether or not a dentist is affordable, there are some important ideas that need to be understood. First, dental insurance should be thought of as an added benefit and not the main reason to select your dentist. Any why? Because insurance companies do not care about the patient or the dentist. Let me repeat this…insurance companies do not care. It’s not their job to care about health. It’s their job to make money and often prey on the fact that the patient will blame a dentist if a procedure has a significant co-payment on top of what the dental insurance plan will cover.
- Second, patients are not cattle. If you are in an office filled with people waiting thirty minutes to an hour to see a dentist and then when you’re finally seen it’s shorter than your wait, this is a huge red flag. Sadly, this scenario does occur and is the result of poor affordability. It usually doesn’t happen because the dentist is so good and well worth the wait. A good dentist will not attempt to over schedule and will offer the necessary time it takes to provide the best care. As a result, the costs to the patient will naturally be higher up front but cheaper over all in the long run. In other words, a filling that lasts 10-20 years versus one that is replaced every 2-3 years because of long waits and rushed care is actually more affordable to patients.
- Finally, a house built out of glass has a higher up keep than a house built out of metal. Sometimes when people seek out dental care, it’s best to find a dentist who thinks of your oral health as building and maintaining a house. A house exposed to extreme hot and cold temperature changes, constant crushing forces like hail storms, acid rain, and termites is more likely to experience more damage and repair work if made out of porcelain or resin versus metal. Your mouth operates the same way. The mouth experiences extreme temperature changes daily ranging from hot coffee to popsicles. People also eat several times a day, crushing food, ice cubes, etc against their teeth. And each time they eat the body starts an acidic process called digestion. Enzymes are released from salivary glands to dissolve food. Furthermore, we have bacteria in our mouths—the termites of our mouths—that also produce acid, which may breakdown our teeth. When a dentist puts a person’s oral health in these simple terms, then you as a patient at least can make an informed decision as to what is best for your dental needs, health, and overall well-being. This way, a patient can decide if they want a porcelain house understanding it is more costly as a it will require a higher level of maintenance and if it truly is affordable and within their means. Again, be informed before anything is performed and you will your increase your chances of happiness when selecting a dentist.
You can choose to meet our Dentists at Dentistry For Children Hawaii.