Has it been a while since your last dental appointment? Maybe even years? The new year is the perfect opportunity to get back on track with regular dental appointments. It’s one resolution you can knock off your list right away: Just pick up your phone and make a call. If you don’t have a regular dentist or you’re looking for a cosmetic dentist, however, you might need to do a little research first.
Ask for a reference
Check with friends, neighbors or co-workers to see if they would recommend their dentists. If you’ve recently moved or are planning on moving, see if your former dentist can recommend someone in your area. Use the Delta Dental “Find a Dentist” tool to locate dentists in your area who are in the Delta Dental network. But you want to make sure you have a trusted and reputable dentist, who you know will provide you with the highest level of service. Specialists who have undertaken a sterile processing exam may be a good indication of the level of professionalism within the workplace and will potentially make your choice of finding a dentist that bit easier.
After you find a dentist, ask some questions before making a final decision. A few questions to consider:
- What should I expect during the first exam?
- How does the dental team keep up with new techniques and industry practices?
- If there is an emergency, how is it handled? For example, most dentists have agreements with other offices or referral services so you can be seen even when your dentist is not available.
- What common procedures are performed in the office and when would you need to see a specialist?
- If you have a specific condition, ask if the dentist has experience in treating it.
- If you are looking for a dentist who specializes in areas such as oral surgery, gum disease, root canals or braces, ask if they are board-certified or board-eligible members of their specialty organization.
- If you have dental benefits and cost is a concern, ask if they belong to your dental network. It is usually less expensive to go to an in-network dentist.
Play “I spy” at your appointment
At your first appointment, look for a clean and organized office, a dentist who takes time to answer questions and explain things, and a courteous and professional staff. If a lot of repair work is recommended, ask about options and the risks and benefits of each. There are typically multiple ways to restore lost or damaged teeth, often with wide variations in price, effectiveness and long-term outcome. Make sure you get information up front about fees and payment plans, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and take notes. Finding a dentist that’s right for you can mean the difference between making and keeping regular appointments or avoiding the dentist until you have an emergency.