7 Issues That Show You Picked the Wrong Dentist

By Mark Kelsey Dentist with over ten years of experience
Updated on

Seven Bad Signs

Have a suspicion your dentist may not be right for you? We've assembled a quick list of seven issues that suggest you've picked the wrong person for your dental care. If you're convinced you have the wrong dentist after reading our list, see our article "Finding the Right Dentist to Meet Your Unique Needs: A Comprehensive Guide.

Most consumers know to change dentists if they receive low quality work but they may not realize that there are other red flags indicating that a new dentist is advisable. Below are seven for you to consider.

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#1 - Your Dentist Doesn’t Care If You’re In Pain

Some dental procedures can be quite painful and, over the years, the dental industry has developed a variety of methods to alleviate discomfort effectively. If you tell your dentist that a procedure is causing you pain and your dentist ignores the feedback, you can find a new dentist who will discuss the options for pain relief as well as their pros and cons.

#2 - Your Dentist Treats Oral Hygiene Failings as Moral Failings

Let's face it, not everyone flosses and brushes as often as they should. Failure to practice good oral hygiene can damage teeth and gums alike, and this is not up for debate. However, a dentist can point these problems out and provide practical advice on improvement without belittling a patient or making the patient feel like a bad human being. If your dentist crosses the line when addressing an oral hygiene deficit and makes it a referendum on you as a person, it's time to take your business elsewhere - but make certain you fix your brushing and flossing habits.

#3 - Your Dentist Is Frustrated When You Ask Questions About Treatments

You did not go to dental school so you cannot be expected to understand every aspect of dentistry. Consequently, you have the right to ask questions about any aspect of dental care that is unclear to you, whether it be care you are currently receiving or recommendations for future services. A dentist who bristles at patient questions and dismisses them (or gives only the minimum amount of information in response) is not a good long-term partner for your oral health.

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#4 - Your Dentist Isn't Keeping Up with Changes in Dentistry

Like all fields of healthcare, dentistry continues to evolve and you want a dentist who is familiar with the latest developments. You may read an article or see a commercial and have a question like "What exactly is laser teeth whitening and is it safe?" or "Is cosmetic dentistry something I should consider?" For a variety of legitimate reasons, a dentist may not offer the latest technologies but your dentist should still be able to discuss their merits if you ask. If the dentist doesn't know, the best answer is "I don't know the answer but I'll look into it so we can discuss it at your next visit." If the answer you receive is something akin to "I don't care about the new stuff" then you may want to find a dentist who is better at keeping up with developments in the field.

#5 - Your Dentist Doesn't Have Compassion For Your Dental Fears

Many people of all backgrounds have considerable anxiety about dentist visits. While dentistry is safe and a vital aspect of overall healthcare, dental anxiety remains a real issue for millions. If you fear dental visits and your dentist dismisses your feelings as irrational, the situation is likely to persist or may get worse. More importantly, a patient who fears the dentist is less likely to visit a dentist, and that can lead to dental problems going unaddressed and becoming more severe.

If your dentist thinks your fears are silly, find a more compassionate dentist. Many dentists have treated patients with dental fear and can respectfully discuss ways to lessen anxiety.

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#6 - Your Time Isn't Important to Your Dentist

If you're dentist insists you show up 15 minutes early for appointments but is always late to start your care, your time is not a priority. Just remember that there are instances when the dentist may need to take more time with an earlier patient than was expected. However, if your dentist is significantly late to your every appointment, you're not being shown the respect you deserve.

#7 - Your Told You Need Thousands in Dental Work But a Second Opinion is Resisted

Every dental patient is afraid to hear that they will need thousands in dental treatment. If you receive this diagnosis, there is nothing insulting to a dental professional if you want a second opinion, or even a third opinion. It's your mouth and your wallet. If you tell your dentist you're going to get a second opinion and the dentist is defensive or discourages you by suggesting it is an unnecessary waste of money, it is a danger sign that you may have been prescribed more treatment than is necessary. An undercover dental study published in Reader's Digest had a journalist visit 50 dentists for an examination and the cost of recommended treatment ranged from $460 to $29,850 despite the fact that all 50 dentists reviewed the same patient.

Second opinions regarding major dental work is not an insult regarding your dentist's competence. Rather, it is the prerogative of every patient who wishes to make an informed decision about their oral health.

Concluding Thoughts

Most dentists are competent and hardworking professionals who provide an invaluable service to the public. However, not every dentist is right for every patient and there are a few dentists that may not be right for any patients. The responsibility is on your shoulders to find the right dentist for you and your family. Just remember that when changing dentists, your choices may be affected by your insurance. In-network dentists usually have the lowest out-of-pocket costs and out-of-network dentists may have higher out-of-pocket costs or may not be covered at all depending on the dental plan. If you need to find a plan that will cover a new dentist you have chosen, visit the DentalInsurance.com home page and compare dental insurance options.

Sometimes a need for a new dentist is more than a matter of misaligned expectations. If you believe you've been injured through poor dental care, see our article ways to deal with a dental malpractice.

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