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When considering a potential new dentist, there are many important factors to take into account. Blindly picking a name out of your insurance provider's list of in-network dentists without getting the right information about the practice is not the ideal option! In this article, we'll cover the top 10 key questions to ask your possible future dentist.
These basic questions can help you figure out if you can work with a dentist in the first place.
1. Are you taking new patients?
Some dentists will only work with a certain number of patients at a time. Once they reach that number, they stop taking new patients and just focus on the ones they already have.
2. Do you treat children, and if so, what types of accommodations do you make for them?
Not all dentists work with kids. Even if you're looking for a dentist for yourself and not your kids right now, it might be better to find a practice that works with children. This way, you'll already have a good relationship with an office by the time your kids need a check-up or dental work.
If you have kids, it's important to find someone who makes adjustments for young children. This should include smaller tools for smaller mouths, plus comforting items like happy decorations or even TV sets.
3. Do you make accommodations for people with dental anxiety?
If the thought of going to the dentist scares you stiff, you're not alone. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, approximately 35 million Americans experience significant apprehension about dental procedures. Plus, an extra “10 to 12 million are considered to be 'dental phobic' and avoid needed dental care altogether.”
However, dentists are getting better at working with anxious people. Many dentists now offer calming music, nitrous oxide, anti-anxiety medications, and other accommodations to help patients chill out. Again, if you don't have dental anxiety, but someone else in your family does, you may want to start building a relationship with a helpful practice now.
These questions are meant to determine if your dentist has what it takes to take care of you.
4. How long have you been practicing?
All else being equal, it's clearly better to pick a dentist who has been practicing longer. Experience is the best teacher.
5. How often do you take continuing education classes?
Both dentists and dental hygienists are supposed to take continuing education courses throughout their careers. If your potential new dentist can't tell you the last time they've taken a continuing education course, that's a big red flag.
6. Do you have any area of expertise, other than general dentistry?
If you know you're going to need a certain procedure soon, like a root canal, it makes sense to start building a relationship with a dentist that specializes in endodontics. Endodontics deal with how a tooth's pulp and tissues work.
7. Do you have patient testimonials as well as before and after pictures from past patients that I can look at?
Yes, even with online reviews widely available, dentists should still keep patient testimonials, as well as before and after pictures on hand. If a dentist can't provide these, that might be a red flag.
Daniela Baker from CreditDonkey says, “Of course, finding the best dentist in the world won't do you much good if there's no way you can afford their services, so ask about payment options ahead of time.”
8. Which types of dental insurance do you accept?
It's important to ask which types of dental insurance your potential dentist accepts, or just ask if they accept your insurance. Also, ask if they will file your insurance claims for you, or if you have to do it yourself.
9. Do you take credit card payments, and if so, which credit cards do you accept?
Many dentists today accept credit card payments, since they are popular with patients. Even if you don't think you'll need this option, it's good to know you'll have it as a plan B in case your co-pays are higher than expected.
10. Do you accept discount dental plans?
Dental offices that accept discount dental plans will perform services at a discounted price for discount dental plan members. If you already have dental insurance, you can still use a discount dental plan to keep costs down after you reach your insurance plan maximum.* Unlike insurance plans, discount dental plans usually do not have annual limits.
These are just 10 of many important questions you should ask a potential new dentist. You should also ask questions that apply to your own needs. The Forestream Dental Group in Buffalo, New York advises making an appointment with a potential new dentist to interview them before having work done.
Remember, the oral health of you and your family depends, in part, on your new dentist, so go the extra mile to get to know them!
*Please consult with your provider prior to beginning treatment.