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How Does Your Dentist Really Rate? Survey Says…

Although we all know proper dental care is vital to good health, most people don’t know how to choose a good dentist for themselves. How can a non-dental person know what questions to ask before they choose a dentist?  There are two main considerations that will affect your choice–how a dentist treats you as a person and how this dentist will treat your mouth. We suggest you consider these 10 questions to help you choose the quality dental care you need and deserve.

1. How can I directly ask the dentist questions?

If the dentist prefers that you usually speak to someone at the front desk or another staff person, then you should begin to wonder how important you are to this average dentist. An outstanding dentist who cares about you will be happy to answer your questions personally.

2. What is the dentist’s philosophy for performing dentistry?

An outstanding dentist will explain problems and options so you can take part in making decisions about your care. Rather than just telling you what to do, the dentist should explain the results of the exam and work with you to develop a total treatment plan based on the big picture of your oral health and wellness. The dentist and you should decide upon a plan that fits your timeline and your budget, that takes into account your insurance, and that is centered on your needs.

3. What sorts of dental materials does the dentist use?

The dentist should be using state-of-the-art materials accompanied with an understanding of the meticulous techniques required for the placement of these restorations. You want a dentist who can provide you with an esthetic, high-quality restoration using materials that will make your teeth look beautiful, comfortable, and long lasting.

4. What continuing education has the dentist had within the past year?

Outstanding dentists do not stop learning once they graduate from dental school. They keep up with the latest developments in their field by taking continuing education courses. While every state requires dentists to take a certain number of hours of continuing education every year, outstanding dentists take many more than the required number for licensure.

5. Does the dentist follow OSHA guidelines for infection control?

The answer should be an unequivocal yes. That means wearing gloves and a mask, as well as sterilizing hand pieces and all other dental equipment in the office.

6. Does the dentist seem genuinely interested in your general health situation?

The dentist should ask for a comprehensive medical history before beginning dental treatment. With a complete medical history, the dentist can determine allergies and possible drug interactions or intolerances.

7. Does the dentist do an oral cancer screening?

This should be routine at your initial exam and then followed up at every cleaning appointment. Your dentist needs to look not only at your teeth, but your entire mouth.

8. Does the dentist check thoroughly for gum disease, decay, and correct bite?

A thorough initial exam includes using a periodontal probe to probe for six points on each tooth–three on the cheek side and three on the tongue side–to check for the depth of possible bone loss caused by gum disease. A depth of over three millimeters indicates areas of concern. As a follow-up, the dental hygienist should perform periodontal probing at every cleaning. The outstanding dentist should look for decay using the dental pic and should maintain your Decayed, Missing and Filled Teeth record. At the first exam, the jaw and teeth relationship and the contact points in your bite should be checked. This is important because over time, changes in your bite can cause stress and cracked teeth.

9. How available is the dentist?

An outstanding dentist will have arrangements for handling emergencies that occur outside of office hours. You may also need a dentist who is available on Saturdays or during the evenings. When you make your first appointment, an outstanding dentist should get you in fairly soon, rather than having you wait several weeks.

10. Is it easy to talk about fees with your dentist?

An outstanding dentist should be sensitive to your budget and understanding about your insurance. Your dentist should be willing to discuss fees and payment plans in advance. Don’t be embarrassed to ask the dentist about fees because no outstanding dentist will begin treatment without consent or approval. For many dental problems, you should have a choice of treatments so that you can choose the best one for your needs and desires.

Finding an outstanding dentist is vital to your family’s oral health and overall happiness.  Strong statement? Not when you consider that healthy teeth and gums are now closely linked to overall health, according to many recent studies that have found a connection between what happens in the mouth to diseases in other parts of the body. 

Recent research findings have linked chronic oral infections to diabetes, heart and lung disease, stroke, and low-birth weight babies. In addition, serious dental problems in your loved ones can undermine their self-esteem, lead to long-term stress and depression and interfere with normal physical functioning, such as breathing, swallowing, eating, and speaking.

What this all points to is that optimal oral health points to a favorable future that includes overall health, high self-esteem, self-confidence, regular attendance at school, good grades, graduation, employability, success at job interviews, and perhaps more importantly attainment of satisfying personal relationships.


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