Selecting a dentist used to be so easy. If you lived in Europe during the dark ages, for example, you could simply have your barber take care of any problematic teeth the next time you went in for a trim. Ok, so the medieval procedures weren’t safe, painless, or even remotely grounded in anything close to what we would recognize as “science”, but at least they were simple. These days, however, things have gotten a bit more complex. The industry has evolved into a many headed hydra of prosthodontists, endodontists, orthodontists, and a number of other ‘dontists not recognized by spellcheck. Just deciding on a specific dentist can be such a hassle that you could develop a toothache from the stress alone. Well, wrap that swollen jaw in ice and look forward to better times ahead; here are five tips to finding the best dentist for you in your area.
1. Ask Around
The relationship between doctor and patient can be a very personal one. After all, doctors (and dentists specifically) are experts at relieving pain, so it’s no wonder that people become very attached to dentists that they know and trust. So, if you have friends or relatives who have had good experiences with dentists in your area, ask for some referrals. Just make sure that while you’re asking around, you’re specifying what type of dentist you need; it doesn’t do you much good to end up in the office of an oral surgeon when all you want is a cleaning.
2. Widen Your Search
If word of mouth isn’t producing any viable results, then maybe it’s time to cast a bigger net. It shouldn’t be too hard. In fact, open up a second tab in your browser window right now. Pick a search engine and type in “dentists.” See? In less than five seconds you can have the locations and listings of approximately every dentist within driving distance. You can even check sites that provide online ratings for specific dentists, so that you’re not heading in without any idea of what to expect. If you don’t have internet access (in which case, how are you reading this?) you can always “let your fingers do the walking” and check in a phonebook.
3. Go Back to School
Becoming a licensed dentist takes time and training. This is a very good thing for you. For one thing, it means that the person dosing you with knock-out gas and jamming a drill into your jaw isn’t just some loony who got his hands on a white lab coat. For another thing, it means that there are things called “dental schools” that are full of talented young students who need living teeth on which to learn. Check your local listings and see if there’s a dental school nearby. If you’re willing to take the chance (and remember, they are working under the supervision of actual doctors), then you could get quality dental work for discount prices. Some schools even offer free cleanings and check-ups. Excitement and inexpensive dental work; who could ask for more?
4. Check the Hospital
Although you really shouldn’t go to the E.R. for dental emergencies (unless the emergency involves you choking on a huge wad of cash), many hospitals do employ dental professionals. If you’re still not having any luck locating a good dentist, then get in contact with your local hospital; they should be able to recommend a quality dentist in your area who can take care of you pressing tooth related needs.
5. Do Your Homework
Once you’ve found a dentist that seems right for you, do some research and make sure that everything is in order before you make an appointment. Find out the exact location of the office and familiarize yourself with their business hours and holidays. See what kind of after-hours emergency care they offer. Perhaps most importantly, make sure that they accept your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, find out if they offer a payment plan. The more you know before you go in, the better the experience will be.
Visiting a new dentists can be nerve-wracking, but if you take your time and find the right one for you, you’ll be happier in the long run. Or, failing all of this, you could always ask your barber how much he’d charge to pull a tooth.