It’s easy to put off necessary dental care like checkups and cleanings, especially when your teeth are feeling fine, but this is one act of procrastination that can really come back to bite you. For many people, the reason they don’t get regular dental care is because they haven’t been able to find a dentist that they like and trust. Dental visits can be a major source of anxiety, and even if you don’t consider yourself dentist-phobic, a bad experience or a dentist who you aren’t comfortable with can make it all too easy to cancel, skip, and forget to even book appointments. The best way to avoid falling victim to dental neglect is to find a dentist you really like, who makes you feel like going in for a visit isn’t anything to worry about or avoid. Finding the perfect dentist for you can be tricky, but if you follow some proven hints, you ought to be able to discover a dentist and practice that will keep your teeth clean, strong, and chomping along for years to come.
Make sure the logistics work
First off, you want to make sure your dentist is conveniently located, so that getting to the office won’t be a problem. Depending on your own schedule, you might want a dentist who’s close to your home, or maybe one closer to your workplace would be a better fit. You’ll want to make sure they’re open during the days and hours when it’s easiest for you to keep an appointment. If you have dental insurance, you’ll also want to make sure that any dentist you choose takes your provider’s coverage.
What’s the word on the street
It can be helpful to check online reviews of dental practices, but expectations and subjective opinions can vary wildly, so you’re likely to get a better sense of things by asking friends, family, and co-workers which dentists they see and how well they like them. You might want to give particular weight to the advice of people who have similar needs and issues to you where dental care is concerned. If you’ve got cavity-prone teeth and a history of bad dental experiences, your cousin with the perfect teeth and zero anxiety might not have the right perspective to offer you useful advice, but if your cubicle neighbor who just successfully got through a root canal procedure she’d been dreading tells you, “Go to Classic Dental! They’re terrific,” that’s an opinion you might want to take seriously. You can also get recommendations from organizations like the American Dental Association or companies like 1-800-DENTIST. There may also be dentists’ professional organizations local to your area that can provide information and resources for your search.
Check their qualifications
You’ll want to find out how long any dentist you’re considering has been practicing, where they went to school, and whether or not they’re a member of the ADA.
Before you fully commit to scheduling dental care, see if you can stop by the office to meet the dentist and their staff, get a quick consultation, and see what your first impressions are. If you have any particular worries about your teeth, you might want to bring along your medical records and write down any questions you’d like to remember to ask. Is the office a comfortable, welcoming environment? Do you like the assistants and hygienists who’ll be working on you? Does meeting the dentist put your mind at ease and make you feel like you’ll be in good hands? These are all things you can get a sense of before you’re lying back in the chair with a mouth full of cleaning equipment! If you’ve had previous bad experiences with dentistry, you’ll definitely want to tell them about it and see how they would have handled situations that were difficult or painful for you in the past.
Once you’ve found a dentist with the right location and hours for you, who takes your dental insurance, looks good on paper, and comes highly recommended, and you’ve visited their office and you like what you see, schedule an initial checkup and cleaning to start building the partnership that’s going to keep your teeth healthy and functional for all the years ahead of you. Oral health has a huge influence on your overall health, so don’t think you can skip out on dental care as long as you’re taking care of other aspects of your health. Having a good relationship with a dentist you can trust to look out for your teeth can make a big difference in your quality of life, so if you need a dentist, start looking for one today.