1) Is an Active Listener
You should feel like your dentist gives you a customized dental experience. Not a one size fits all appointment. This can only be done if the dentist takes time to not only look in your mouth, but to listen to you. The dentist might be an expert on what is going on in your mouth, but you are the expert on why. What’s is going on in your life and how is that effecting your overall and dental health? Are you a mom who is busy doing a fabulous job taking care of your children but tend to put yourself on the back burner? Are you a bride preparing for your wedding and want the best smile of your life? Did you just get your first job, have dental insurance for the first time since before college and want to get back on track? How do you feel about your smile? If there is something you could change about your smile, what would it be?
Your dentist should be interested in you. Not just your mouth.
2) Respects Your Time and Your Resources
A dentist should not keep you in the waiting room too long and should be punctual for appointments. Scheduling coordinators should give you options for appointments that are convenient for you. If taking off work is difficult, find a dental office that offers appointments on Saturdays or late weekday hours.
A dentist should also offer different billing options so that your financial resources can be optimized. For example, hopefully they file your insurance, have financing options, and/or offer a cash discount if you are a cash paying patient.
3) Educates You about all aspects of your appointment
The entire dental team should be good educators.
The dentist will educate you on all matters related to your oral health and how it effects your overall health and well being. This includes performing oral cancer screenings as a part of a head and neck exam.
The dental hygienist should educate you on what you can do daily to keep your teeth healthy and maintain your smile.
Insurance can get confusing. What you will pay, what insurance will pay? Do you pay up front? Or only the difference? The financial coordinator’s job is to help you understand all aspects of your financial arrangement.
4) Stays Current with Technology and Continuing Education
You wouldn’t use a phone from 15 years ago. So why go to a dentist who does not stay up to date with current technology? Advancements in technology in the dental field offer many of the same benefits as those outside the field. More comfort, less time, better results. For example, same day CEREC crowns mean less wait time for patients. They also mean no annoying temporary crown while you wait for the permanent one to come back from the lab.
Continuing education allows dentists to stay current with technology and procedures. It gives them an opportunity to brush up on procedures they are already comfortable with and expand their scope of practice.
Not sure what your dentist does to stay up to date? Just ask! If your dentist is already doing this, he/she would most likely love the opportunity to share this information with you!
Overall, just remember to trust your gut. Taking some time to find a dental practice that meets your specific needs is worth the effort. Perhaps that means calling to ask for an office tour and to meet the dentist and staff before scheduling your first appointment. Once you find the right fit, you will be glad you did!