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What makes a good dentist?

You probably don’t think about how good your dentist is, but you should. Dental care is an important part of your health, and untreated oral problems can lead to acute symptoms, such as pain, infection or even the loss of teeth. Even if you do take preventative measures and regularly get your teeth checked, you want to make sure the dentist you’re going to is a good dentist. We share some qualities to look for in a dentist and how to find one quickly and easily.

Woman smiling in dentist mirror

Find the real deal. We see the advertisements of beautiful smiles and pictures of miraculous transformations and think, “This dentist must be good.” But before you decide to make an appointment, stop and consider whether this is just a one-time result or if this dentist is a consistent performer. Rather than choosing based on the results, evaluate a dentist on his or her process. With dentistry’s current focus on cosmetic results, it’s easy to get influenced by marketing and advertising. A renovated office and fancy equipment might look impressive, but remember that you’re paying for medical procedure that should involve examination, diagnosis and treatment.

Young woman smiling in a dentist's chair

Characteristics of a good dentist:

  • Your dentist takes your concerns and fears seriously and is willing to work with you to reassure you or, if needed, give you medication to handle anxiety. Your dentist takes any complaint of pain seriously.
  • Your dentist doesn’t dictate. Instead your dentist lays out your options, tells you the potential consequences of each choice and lets you decide. Your dentist never gets upset if you don’t choose his or her preferred option.
  • Your dentist asks about other medical issues that might affect dentistry, such as allergies, diabetes, etc.
  • Your dentist doesn’t mind if you want to seek a second opinion.
  • Your dentist is willing to talk about payment plans — not just for cosmetic items but also for routine preventative care if you’re unable to afford it at the moment.
  • Your dentist doesn’t heavily push cosmetic products or procedures. It’s OK if your dentist offers regular tooth whitening or veneers, but if you say you’re not interested, then you’re not made to feel guilty.
  • Your dentist isn’t just a “tooth jockey.” That means that the dentist looks at more than just a single tooth and is committed to comprehensive care. You should expect a full examination of teeth, gums and your bite as well as an oral care examination.
  • Your dentist has taken continuing education courses recently. The dental industry has changed significantly over the past five years with the introduction of new technologies and procedures. There are plenty of good lectures and courses out there for a dentist to keep up-to-date, not simply free, sponsored courses by manufacturers selling new products.

Where do I find a good dentist?

A consistently good dentist will have a history of results and a loyal following. Check with your family doctor, trusted friends, family members or another health care professional. If you’re new to the community and don’t know many people in the area, search the internet. With the advent of dentist review sites, you are able to browse recommendations of dentists in your area based on the experiences of other consumers. Dentist review sites help simplify some of the guesswork (not to mention legwork) of finding a good dentist in your area.

More on dental health

Dental professionals: Who does what?
Tips for handling dental emergencies
Bad dental habits

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