Choosing a new dentist can be a daunting process for many of us. A dentist like any health professional sees us when we are most vulnerable. Let’s be honest, how confident or brave do you think you look with your mouth open next to someone hovering over you with a sharp implement? When it comes to visiting a dentist, most of us tend to put off the visit except in an emergency. If we have moved cities, suburbs, or even countries, this difficulty gets multiplied because we do not know what to look, where to look amidst the slick websites with glamourous images and impressive “before and after” photos.
So, what should you consider when you are deciding who your dentist should be? Here are a few tips to choose wisely:
Australian Dental Association
In Australia, the Australian Dental Association is the peak national body for dentists. The ADA has a repertoire of information on the latest news in dentistry, regulations and is the proponent of oral health policies in Australia. You can search for a dentist through the ADA’s Find a Dentist Service which locates dentists near you.
Word of Mouth
There is no stronger advertising than word of mouth. A dentist, like a hairdresser or a doctor, is personal, so when a family member or a friend recommends someone, it is most likely that you will like them. If you are moving cities or across a great distance, you can also ask your existing dentist for a recommendation. The chances are they would know someone they went to school with or through an industry association that might be a great fit for you.
Let’s face it, these days no business can escape from the limelight. Whether it is positive or negative publicity, every business must go through the ups and downs of social media and review sites. Google reviews unlike social media, for the most part, is trustworthy, but it is always easy for a competitor to leave a negative review under an assumed name. So, how can you choose a dentist from a myriad of reviews?
- Check out for informative and relevant reviews. Avoid reviews that do not have any comments and only have stars. Look out for reviews that describe what the patient has faced and experienced. Real patients write about the procedure they had instead of a general comment
- Feel the language. Most authentic reviews use everyday language. Be on the lookout for over descriptive terms or technical jargon because these can be fake reviews done by a paid agency
- Look for a mix of reviews. No business can only have positive reviews. Ignore a dentist who does not have any negative reviews. While reviews for the most part cannot be taken off, there are instances where service providers have been successful in removing negative reviews. When reading reviews, it is always the balance you need to seek
- Compare reviews across websites. Comparing social media platforms in addition to Google is the best way to go. If all reviews are positive, you need to research further
Do Your Own Research
If you have private insurance, some health insurers try to convince you to use their “contracted dentists” or “preferred providers”, with the promise of reduced out-of-pocket expenses. However, you will be impacted personally by the dentist you see, so any financial gains you might receive will be negligible if you are not satisfied and must change dentists frequently.
Imagine you have come across a dentist you think is good for you and want to fix an appointment. Instead of confirming an online appointment or emailing the dentists’ office, ring the office. Check how friendly are the customer service staff when talking to you. Even if you think everyone at the front desk has great customer service, you might observe some small nuances over the phone. In your first visit, you could also observe how tidy is the waiting room and the manner with which the reception staff treats patients that can set the tone for your future appointments.
After long hours of research, you feel you have found a dentist you think will be good. However, even while sitting in the chair, you can still evaluate if you have made a good decision to ensure “continuity of care” instead of a short-term visit. Is your dentist running late for your appointment? Is the dentist taking the time to explain what they are doing, and in a way, you could understand? Did the dentist address your concerns? Did the dentist talk to you about preventive care, such as brushing and flossing?
Choosing a dentist should always be viewed as a long-term proposition. Seeing the same dentist over a long period of time provides you with a consistently high level of service, that cannot be matched by chopping-and-changing dentists.