How to Choose a Dentist

Find a dentist that’s right for you.

Use these tips to find a dentist that’s right for you.

With something as important as choosing a dentist, it’s vital you make a well-informed choice. Glowing recommendations from friends and family are certainly a big help if you’re searching for any type of service provider. But you should look for other things in a dentist.

First, there are some purely practical considerations. Things like the dentist’s location. Will it be convenient for you to visit them whether you’re coming from home or from work? Location may not be an option, but if it is, and if you will need frequent care, it may make a difference.

If you need to schedule an appointment on the weekend or in the evening, will the dentist be available? Are the waiting room, office space, furnishings and equipment clean and well maintained? The answers to these types of questions can help narrow your final selection, especially if you have a large number of options.

Preventive Oral Health 

Beyond these types of practical considerations, there are number of other questions you can ask that will help you make the best choice.

Don’t think of the dentist simply as someone who can restore oral health.

At its most basic, oral health comes down to prevention and restoration. Don’t think of the dentist simply as someone who can restore oral health. Instead, see your dentist as someone who can help you understand and practice good oral health prevention strategies.

A caring dentist will take the time to explain the preventive techniques needed to keep you in the best oral health. In addition, the dentist should draw your attention to any problem areas that may be developing and provide specific instructions – and, if needed, a plan – for how to deal with the areas in question.

Emergency Dental Services

While it’s very important, prevention is only one part of good oral care. What will happen, though, if you have a dental emergency? Will the dentist see you right away if you break a tooth? What if the dentist is out of the office or on vacation?

Many dentists do make special arrangements…

Many dentists do make special arrangements, so if they’re unavailable when emergencies happen, their patients will still receive the timely care they need. That’s not always the case though. Be sure you understand a prospective dentist’s emergency procedures before you really need them.

Treatment Fees and Payment Plans

Finally, before you choose a dentist, you’ll want to find out whether specific information about treatment fees and the dentist’s payment plan is provided to patients before treatment is scheduled.

If you have dental insurance, you may need to determine whether the dentist participates in your plan. With certain types of dental insurance, pretreatment authorization for services may be required. Even if you don’t have insurance, most dentists will be happy to discuss the fees for needed services and the ways you can plan to pay.

You should never put off needed dental treatment. However, be sure to take the time you need to find the dentist that’s right for you.

Is there anything you would add to this list? Let us know in a comment below!

To learn more about dental insurance plans and dental terminology, visit the Resources section.

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21 comments on “How to Choose a Dentist”

  • Emily Smith says:

    This was just the information I needed about finding a dentist. I just moved to a different city and I have been looking for a while now. It is almost time for my 6 month check up appointment. The tip about finding what places are covered by my insurance seems like a good tip. I will have to try that.
    Emily Smith |

  • Casey Jones says:

    Thanks for the advice on selecting a dentist. I liked that you mentioned finding one that cares and can help teach you proper oral care techniques. Maybe I will call my friends and family and see if they have any great dentists they recommend.

    • says:

      A recommendation from family and friends is a great way to find a dentist. Thanks for stopping by the blog Casey!

  • Kyle Winters says:

    I do like that you bring up the importance of emergency dental services in the article. After all, it is very easy to find a good dentist who gives you all of the normal treatment options that you should get. However, it is just as important to find a dentist that offers emergency services should something happen during non-regular hours.

  • I agree that a good dentist also practices preventative oral health. It would seem important to find a dentist that will not only take care of your teeth when they get a problem but who will teach you how the prevent these problems. I’m looking for a new dental clinic so I’ll have to find someone who practices preventive health as well.

  • A dentist that will take the time to explain the preventative techniques needed to keep you in the best oral health is a great choice. Making sure you know what is happening with your mouth would be important to prevent problems. Meeting with different dentists would probably help you be able to find one that you will be comfortable with.

  • John Mahoney says:

    I liked when you talked about choosing a dentist that participates with your insurance. We just moved to a new town and want to make sure we continue our son’s dental treatment. As I see it, taking the time to consult with several companies and read online reviews can guide you in the right direction and find the best dental care for you.

  • I didn’t realize how important it is to find out if a dentist offers payment plans to ensure you can afford his/her service. My wife and I just moved to a new town. Hopefully, we can use this info to prevent plaque buildup. Thanks!

  • Alex Dean says:

    My husband and I just moved to a new state, and are in need help in how to choose the right dentist for us. It’s good to know that one thing we need to do is talk to different ones to discuss their fees and payment plans, that way we will know if they are someone we can work with. For us it will be great to find the right one for us, and also be able to afford it as well.

  • Your suggestion to use a dentist for preventative measures is a great idea. I feel like this would not only save your oral health, but it could save you money. I’m sure restorative measures cost a lot more than preventative ones.

  • John Billows says:

    My family and I just moved into a new area and need to find a dentist close to us. I like your advice to find a dentist that offers plans for dental emergencies. Just as you point out you never know when an emergency might happen to you our your family.

  • My family and I recently moved to a new area. We are looking for a general dentist that will be able to take care of our dental health. Like you said, we will want to find out whether specific information about treatment fees and payment plans is provided before the treatment is scheduled. Thanks for sharing!

  • I like that you mentioned finding a dentist that will help you prevent oral problems. This is key to maintaining health and saving on repairs. We are looking for a dentist right now that has our best interests in mind.

  • It’s great to know how to find a good dentist. We just moved, and my whole family is due for an appointment pretty soon. I want to find a good dentist to take them to, as soon as possible. I’ll love it if I can find someone who helps my kids prevent cavities, instead of just fixing them.

  • Ivy Baker says:

    I just recently moved to a new area and I need to find a new dentist. So, I liked that you talked about how it would be smart for me to consider practical things like location. Personally, I wouldn’t want to drive more than a half hour away from my home to get to my dentist office.

  • I agree, a good dentist is one that takes preventative measures to keep your mouth safe from disease. A dentist’s job should not only be to take care of your mouth only after you’ve gotten a cavity or gingivitis. As the article points out, a good dentist will take time to go over several techniques you can do to keep your oral hygiene in check.

  • It is smart to think about location when picking out a dentist for your family. In addition to practical considerations like this, the questions you suggested asking seem like a good way to pick the best one. I’m sure there are a few dentists within a reasonable driving distance from our house, but choosing one who will make special arrangements for a dental emergency could be really helpful when my son starts playing lacrosse in the fall.

  • I liked that you had mentioned that it can be important to find out what the dentist does in the situation where there is a dental emergency to see if they have special procedures that they can have done. My family and I have recently moved into a new area and because of this we no longer have a primary dentist. Once we start looking, we’ll be making sure that the dentist will be available for any possible emergencies.

  • Ashley Turns says:

    Thanks for mentioning that a great dentist will be sure to explain the things you can do to prevent bad oral health. My husband and I are looking for a new general dentistry office for us and our kids to use. Since I do have two kids, it is important that the general dentistry office we use can explain to them the oral health is important and the best ways to keep it looking great.

  • Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I just moved to a new town and are looking for a new dentistry to get set up with but we aren’t sure where to start. I like that you suggest finding a place that has emergency services available. Knowing we can come in if there is an accident would help put my mind at ease. Thanks for sharing!

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