Choosing a Dentist

What is a dentist?

Dentists are healthcare professionals trained to help you care for your teeth, your gums, and the soft tissues of your mouth. Dentists have several years of training in dental medicine. A dentist may have a DDS (doctor of dental surgery) or DMD (doctor of dental medicine) degree. There is no difference in the training. The degree a dentist has depends on the school attended.

How do I start my search?

Here are a few tips on finding a good dentist:

  • Ask for referrals from family, friends, or coworkers.
  • Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
  • Contact your local or state dental society to see if they provide referrals.
  • Ask faculty members of local dental schools.
  • If you are moving, ask your current dentist for recommendations.
  • If you have dental insurance, ask for a list of dental providers on your plan.

If you are looking for free or low-cost dental care, check with your state dental society to see if there are community health centers, assistance programs, or clinics in your area. Dental schools often have clinics where supervised dental students treat patients for a lower cost. You can also contact your state or local health department to find out what services are offered in your area.

What should I check?

Look for a dentist whose office is easy for you to get to from home or from work. Call the dentist’s office and ask if they are taking new patients.

You and your dentist are partners in your oral health. Take the time to ask questions.

  • Ask about office hours and appointments, payment policy, and insurance coverage.
  • Ask how long the dentist has been in practice.
  • Find out how dental emergencies are handled.
  • Ask about fees and payment before you have treatments. If you are comparing the fees charged by different dentists, ask what the cost is for X-rays and a preventive dental visit that includes an oral exam and teeth cleaning.
  • If you know others who have seen this dentist, ask them if the dentist is easy to talk to. Does the dentist explain treatment choices and teach ways to prevent dental health problems?
  • If you are anxious about seeing a dentist or concerned about pain, talk to the dentist to find out what choices you have, such as medicine to help you relax or fall asleep during your treatment.

When you visit the dentist’s office, check for neatness and cleanliness.

You can get more information from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-07
Last reviewed: 2014-02-06
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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