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How to Choose a Good Dentist

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Proper oral health can have an impact on your physical, mental, and social well-being. It can allow you to speak, eat, and even socialise without feeling any discomfort, embarrassment, or pain. Remember that maintaining healthy gums and teeth with the right oral care is a lifetime commitment. You need to eat nutritious foods, brush and floss and have routine dental check-ups to make sure that your teeth and gums are in good health.

Regardless of whether you have been visiting the Heritage Dentistry regularly for years or it’s your first visit, an excellent examination, careful cleaning, and follow-up check-ups may keep your teeth and gums healthy and your mouth fresh. Choosing a good dentist is always essential if you want to achieve proper oral health. This article explains how to choose a good dentist.  

Things to do to choose a good dentist

If the idea of going to the dentist feels overwhelming, it’s a good idea to understand that dentists have your best interests in their hearts. In other words, a dentist should be considered as a partner in your oral health. 

Hence, you need to take routine dental treatment and check-ups by an experienced dentist so that you can keep your mouth, teeth, and gums healthy as well as prevent dental diseases. Unfortunately, poor oral health can lead to other health risks, such as cardiovascular disease. To choose a good dentist, you need to keep in mind the following factors:

Get referrals

From the onset, you should create a list of all potential dentists. So ask your friends, family, and healthcare providers for recommendations. Even better, take enough time to research the experience and credentials of the dentists. While you are narrowing down the dentists’ list, you can call the dentists and book an appointment to interview them. 

Research the credentials of the dentist

One of the key factors you can consider when choosing a dentist is to look for board certification. This can tell you if the potential dentist has the required skills, training, and experience to give proper healthcare in dentistry. 

Also, make sure that the dentist hasn’t faced any disciplinary actions or doesn’t have claims of malpractices. You can get the dentists training hospital, medical school, certifications, and disciplinary and malpractice history on state websites and other sites. 

The dentist’s experience 

When you face an oral health problem, experience matters a lot. The more experience your dentist has with the dental procedure or condition, the better the results are going to be. Besides, training is important for dental specialties, such as endodontics and orthodontics. 

Therefore, you should ask the dentist the number of patients they have treated with your similar condition. If you experience dental anxieties, you need to ask the dentist their approaches to handling such patients. 

If you want to have a specific procedure, then ask the dentist how many procedures they have performed. Also, find out the complication rates they have encountered during their practice and your risk of complications. 

Consider the gender of the dentist

You must be comfortable with the gender of the dentist because you need to reveal some personal information. It’s worth noting that in certain forms of dental care your gender is also a crucial consideration. Today, dentists are even becoming quite skilled in handling men and women differently. Therefore, you should ask the dentist their experience and training specifically when it comes to your gender and condition. 

The dentist’s telehealth capabilities

Dentists are trained to diagnose and treat patients utilising telecommunications technology, like smartphones, two-way video, and email – it’s known as telehealth. So you should ask them if they provide telehealth services.

While telehealth cannot be a substitute for in-person dental office visits, it can come in handy as you don’t have to visit the dentist’s office regularly. Also, some dental problems can be managed by simply sending your symptoms and signs you get at home and make a virtual visit with your dentist. 

Telehealth can also be utilised for minor complaints and routine follow-ups, to make it a convenient option. You can also check with your health insurance to find out if it can pay for telehealth services.

Assess the communication style

You can choose a dentist who supports your needs and you’re comfortable talking to. Therefore, once you meet the dentist, ask them a couple of questions to see how they respond. 

You can ask the dentist some questions and notice if they welcome them and give answers in a way that you can understand. In short, the dentist should show interest in getting to know your well-being, will prioritise your treatment, and respect your decision-making process.

Read patient reviews

You can read what other clients have to say about your dentist so that you can get an insight into the dentist’s practices and how their dental practice operates. Patient reviews usually indicate patients’ experience with wait times, scheduling appointments, office staff friendliness, and office environment. Therefore, you can learn how patients trust the dentist, how well the dentist answers questions, and how much time the dentist spends with the patients.

Insurance cover 

Dental insurance coverage is a practical issue. To pay less out-of-pocket for dental care and get the most dental insurance benefits, you must choose a dentist who is involved in your plan. You also need to consider their experience, credentials, hospital quality, and outcomes as you choose a dentist from your plan. 

When looking for a dentist, remember that you want to find someone to not only clean your teeth. Your oral health plays a huge role in your overall health, so you must have a good dentist. This will mean that there can be someone looking out for your best interest.

A good dentist allows you to be more comfortable when having a regular visit and offers you a trusted and safe place to turn to for a dental emergency or procedure. 

What may happen at the dentist office

A visit to your dentist’s office doesn’t need to be something overwhelming. Keep in mind that hygienists and dentists want to help you, and they will always attempt to make your visit as comfortable as possible. 

You can usually watch TV or movies, and they may break up tasks into several visits so that there is not too much in one visit. The good part is that there are various options for sedation or pain relief during procedures. Here are some of the things to help you prepare for a dentist visit and what you can expect there:

Before the appointment 

Plan adequate time off from school or work so that you can feel less anxious or rushed about getting back. When making an appointment, ask how long an exam and cleaning process will take so that you can add more time to that. You should expect to take longer at the dentist if it has been quite long since your last visit. But an end-of-day appointment is usually a great option so you can get home immediately after the appointment. 

If you have dental insurance, try to find out if the dentist has in-network before making the appointment to save some costs. You may need to pay a copay once you are at the dentist’s office, or the dentist may bill the balance when the insurance pays them. If you don’t have any insurance, find out in good time how much you will be supposed to pay at the appointment.

On the appointment day, you should make sure to get there early so that you can fill out some paperwork or to turn in online forms in time. This also gives the staff enough time to prepare you for the appointment. Have your insurance card and driver’s license ready while checking in at the reception desk.

A routine visit

A dental hygienist may usually cover your chest with a paper cloth or plastic, and you may even receive eye shields to wear. You may notice a tray of metals and some ultrasonic tools, too. The hygienist utilises these while working your teeth one at a time to remove any build-up of tartar and plaque on the surfaces as well as along the gumline. They may even floss between the teeth.

If you feel pain in the jaw or you feel some mouth pains during the cleaning process, tell the hygienist about the pain so that you can have a break as needed. When that is done, you need to rinse well by using a tool that has a spinning head. The hygienist uses this tool to polish your teeth, and you even choose the flavor of paste that you can use to rinse again.  

In most cases, you can get X-rays each year to help detect dental problems that may just be starting or difficult to see. Then the hygienist can bring the dentist in to conduct a thorough examination. They may check each tooth to look for gaps or pockets between your teeth and gums.

There is a tool known as a periodontal probe that can be ultrasonic or metal. This tool assists dentists to find problem spots, and it can also measure the depth of the gum pockets. While this is happening, the hygienist usually stays to take notes in your chart. Then the dentist can talk to you about the outcome and what will come next. 

A routine or first visit

Regardless of whether or not it has taken some time to see your dentist, you should expect the same dental care you get from a routine visit. New patient appointments after a few years have gone usually need X-rays. So the dentist requires these to check on inside your gums, teeth and supporting bone structures. 

Make sure that you make plans to be there for a detailed cleaning process with the hygienist. The longer it takes to visit a dentist, the more hard plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth and the gumline. 

However, if you have sensitive teeth, ensure that you talk to the dentist or hygienist about getting numbing options to reduce the pain before the task starts. To remove tartar can make you feel uncomfortable, though the cleaning and smooth feeling of your teeth are worth it. 

When a dentist probes the teeth and checks the gums for pockets, it can sometimes hurt and even bleed a little. But the pain doesn’t last long. Also, don’t feel overwhelmed if your dentist finds some issues. Having an appointment done can give you peace of mind knowing that you can fix the dental problems. With good dental habits after the initial appointment, it means the follow-up visits can be easier.

After the visit 

You can take over-the-counter medication for pain relief if you feel pain in the mouth. You can also call the dental office between the routine visits if you have pertinent questions, your jaw is swelling or your teeth are hurting, so that the dentist should know right away.

When you have a healthy mouth, perhaps you can get a cleaning and exam process every six months. This can depend on what the dentist finds in your exam because they can sometimes recommend a treatment plan to deal with the needed care first. 

You may need to have fillings to close some cavities in your teeth before they enlarge. However, for more serious decay, then crowns can surround and cover the important part of the damaged tooth to keep the root in place. This cap is put in place to look and even feel like the real thing. 

Cosmetic bonding, shaping, and veneers may also improve the appearance of the broken and discoloured teeth. So ask your dentist if they provide various options to improve your overall smile.

To heal gum issues, root planing and scaling can clean the teeth sides below the gumline. This enables the gums to tighten up at the roots better. You may also require X-rays every six months to examine your progress.

Elena Deeley did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.

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