With so many DFW dentists to choose from, how do you go about selecting the right dentist for you? Here are some simple steps to help you find the best fit for you and your family:
First, you’ll want to ensure that your dentist is well-educated and professionally certified. Find out where the dentist earned his or her doctorate (DDS). Is it an accredited institution? What is the reputation of the dental school itself? While in school did your dentist distinguish him or herself? Did he or she belong to the honor society or receive other special recognitions or awards? These can be early indications of dedication and excellence.
Another step in the process of how to choose a dentist is to look at current affiliations. Does the dentist belong to any professional associations? Are they active members? Do they hold (or have held) any leadership positions? Why is this important when choosing a dentist? Because their involvement in professional organizations — such as the American Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association – tells you that they are plugged into the most current innovations, best practices, and state-of- the art dental practices.
Experience and Reputation
Next, find out how much experience your dentist has. How long has the dentist been practicing? Do they have experience in your particular area of need – for example, implants, dentistry for kids, teeth whitening? Years of experience are a good indicator, but reputation may be an even more important factor in how to choose a DFW dentist. Ask friends, relatives and neighbors about their experience. Take advantage of the Internet – and social media – to hear what actual patients have to say about the dentist, and don’t forget to check out feedback on the office and team as well. Patient feedback, reports and testimonials will tell you a lot of what you need to know about the actual experience of seeing a particular dentist, not just what they look like on paper.
Not all DFW dentists offer the same services. When choosing a dentist in the Dallas area, take a look at the dentist’s website to see what types of services they offer and whether it’s a comprehensive list that will be able to meet all your dental needs, now and in the future. This is an important element in the process of how to choose a dentist.
When investigating the services they offer, pay particular attention to the breadth and depth of the dental exam; a top-notch dentist will obtain a full health history and conduct a very thorough exam. If you have children, you will want to make sure that the dentist offers kids dentistry services, including caring for first teeth, and an emphasis on making sure that your child’s trips to the dentist are pleasant ones. If you have special dental needs, including a fear of dental procedures, difficulties with local anesthesia, or complex dental problems, check to see if the dentist offers safe sedation dentistry. Another good guideline for how to choose a dentist is to look for a dentist who explains procedures up front and talks openly with patients about costs and options. It’s also important to evaluate whether the dentist and office team provide information on oral hygiene and care to prevent problems and educate patients on how oral health impacts the health of the whole body, and the whole person.
The True Test
After you’ve done your basic research and narrowed your search, the most important step in how to choose a dentist is to call for a first appointment. Even your experience on the phone will provide you with important information as will your first visit. Was the receptionist, friendly, informative, helpful? Were you able to secure a convenient appointment time and how far in the future was the first available appointment? Was there convenient parking? Was the office clean and pleasant? Was the staff friendly and professional? Was the dentist caring, a good communicator, a good listener? Did he or she have a gentle touch? Did your comfort seem to matter? Were clear explanations of procedures, costs and alternatives offered? Did you feel that you mattered as an individual, not just as a patient?
As you complete our suggested steps on how to choose a dentist, we invite you to learn about Dr. Debra Seznik, a DFW dentist who has dedicated her 25-year career to helping patients with all their dental and oral health needs in a friendly, professional, caring manner.