The fact is one is bound to have some form of dental needs at one point or the other in one’s life.
Now, how one goes about fulfilling that need is very important.
It requires an introduction to the various fields of dentistry. The more one understands the differences between the dental fields, the more successful one will be in his or search.
Usually, the best place to start is a family or general dentist.
A general dentist is licensed to diagnose dental issues and oral conditions, develop treatment plans, and provide certain treatments.
When necessary, general dentists may refer you to a more specialized practitioner (like an orthodontist or prosthodontist).
Qualified dentists are designated as either DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine).
Dentists provide treatment with help from dental hygienists and dental assistants.
A hygienist performs professional dental cleanings. The hygienist’s designation may be RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist), or RDHEF (Registered Dental Hygienist with Extended Functions).
A dental assistant may assist during a procedure, set up anesthesia, expose and develop radiographs, or perform other general tasks.
In accordance with U.S. law, hygienists and assistants must work under the supervision of a dentist.
Here are 10 factors one should consider when seeking out a new dentist.
1. Find out how long the practice has been in operation.
2. The dentist’s training and clinical experience should also be of interest to you and is worth exploring.
3. If the dentist does not perform certain procedures, ask about his/her referral process.
4. Before committing yourself to a dentist, identify all the procedure options that would solve your cosmetic dental concern. Ask about the pros and cons of each option.
5. Dental care is not cheap, so one should also inquire about the cost and a payment plan if any.
6. Ask about the types of professional dental societies the dentist participates in. Some societies require dentists to take continuing education classes to keep them up-to-date on the latest procedures and technological advances in the field.
7. Inquire about the use of dental lasers as an alternative to traditional dental tools such as tooth drilling and scalpels.
8. Customer service is key and may even trump additional cost, so the question of whether the dental team is friendly, honest, and courteous may be insightful for a long-term relationship.
9. Is the office located nearby? This could be important if your procedures require frequent or multiple visits.
10. The hygiene, safety, security, and the general ambiance of the work environment may also be an interest to one who is dentist shopping.
Nigel Belle, Readers Bureau, Fellow
Edited by Jesus Chan
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