If you’re moving to a new community, it’s always helpful to ask your current dentist if she can recommend someone. Check with your family doctor or neighbourhood pharmacist for referrals. Use your social network: Put the word out to friends, relatives and even parents of your kids’ friends to let them know you’re looking. “I think word of mouth is most effective. If you don’t yet know many people in your new neighbourhood, you can look up the local directories or search the Internet.
A certain new dentist may be dazzling, but how accessible is his office? Is there parking or public transportation nearby? What about dental emergencies, like a broken tooth, How are they handled? What’s the fee range? If English isn’t your first language, you might want to know what other languages are spoken. If you’re a parent, you may wish to find out if children are welcomed by the practice. All of these questions can be answered before you even set foot in the dentist’s door.
Placing a Call:
Phone the front-desk staff and ask about some of the logistics you’re still wondering about. This is also your chance to check out any attitude. How does the receptionist treat you? Is the staff friendly? Do they make you feel good?” If you’re left on hold indefinitely, if the staff seem snappish and rushed, or if they don’t seem to know the answers to any of your questions.
Paying a visit:
Go and see the place in person. Is it easy to get to, and did it take you a reasonable amount of time? Are the waiting room and offices neat, clean and well-organized? Are you treated with courtesy when you arrive? What’s your sense of the overall atmosphere – do you feel comfortable in this environment?
Talking to the dentist:
At your first visit, ask the dentist about her approach to treatment. Does she explain things clearly, and is prevention part of her oral care plan? Dentists differ in things like their emphasis on cosmetic dentistry, or how frequently they require an x-ray. “You should have a pretty good idea about what you want for yourself, and see how they fit in with that,” says Ward. Most important of all, this introductory chat with the dentist will help you decide how comfortable you are with her. Do you find you can communicate easily, and does she listen to your questions and concerns? It may take some doing to find the best dentist-patient fit. But the long-term payoff for you-and your teeth-will be well worth it.