Taking care of your teeth with regular dental cleanings is an important part of your overall health care. Not only do you just get one set of pearly whites to last a lifetime, gum disease has been linked to numerous health problems including heart disease, diabetes and stroke. But how to find a dentist who you won't hate?
If you dread going to the dentist, you’re not alone. Our conscious brains know that modern dental care is a luxury we are lucky to have, but our subconscious brains can interpret the time in the dentist’s chair as a threat to our existence. Negative past experiences with the dentist can cause extreme anxiety to the point of panic attacks – nevermind the inherent awkwardness of someone’s hands and pointy tools in your mouth.
But you don’t have to hate the dentist. Numerous dentists advertise extra gentle care for sensitive patients, and if you don’t like your dentist – take your (hundreds of) dollars elsewhere. Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or just don’t like your existing dentist, finding a new mouth doctor takes a little time and research.
Wondering how to find a new dentist? Here is your path.
- Ask your friends, neighbors and colleagues for recommendations on a local dentist. If they hesitate or give a lukewarm response about their dentist, move on. You’re looking for someone who loves his or her dentist, and is enthusiastic about sharing the information with you (and not just because of a referral bonus). Ask as many people as you can, and jot down the names in a notebook so that you don’t forget. Put a special star next to any names that appear twice.
- If you’re new to the neighborhood or otherwise don’t have anyone to ask, go to the experts: ask your general physician or local pharmacist for their recommendations. You can also consult the American Dental Association’s website to find a dentist, at www.mouthhealthy.org. Consider the dentist’s location, ease of parking, and distance from your home.
- Once you have a list of several dentists to check out, hop online and do some research. In your search engine, type the doctor’s name followed by “dentist review.” You’ll find first-person reviews from past patients on sites like www.Yelp.com, www.1800Dentist.com, and www.HealthGrades.com. Read all the comments, but as with any online review – take them with a grain of salt. Look for patterns and comments that are repeated. Visit the dentists’ website if they have one.
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- Your online research should have narrowed down your list a bit. Now call each dentist’s office and ask the receptionist about the pricing and the appointment scheduling procedure for new patients. Pay attention to how the call makes you feel. Did you feel rushed? Was the receptionist cheerful or did they seem slightly annoyed by your call? Did you receive all the information you asked for in a clear manner? Narrow your list down to your top two or three dentists based on your calls.
- Finally it is time to visit your top dentists. Make a list of your #1, #2 and #3 selections, and make an appointment with your first choice – if it goes well, you have found a dentist! If not, visit #2 and then #3. Your office visit is the most important part of your selection. How you feel during your visit matters more than everything that other people have said, what the website looked like, and how nice the receptionist was. Trust your gut, and if you get bad vibes: leave. If not, try out the dentist for a simple exam and cleaning. Hopefully you will have a good experience and will have found the right dentist for you.
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