How to Choose the Right Family Dentist
Many factors go into finding a great family dentist. Sure, it's important to have a pearly white smile, but there's so much more that goes into good oral health. To maintain excellent oral health for both you and your children, it's essential to make regular visits to a family dentist. You need to find a family dentist you trust and who will cater to your personal needs to ensure you’re comfortable and satisfied with your dental visits.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), through the years 2011 through 2014 —
- Around 18.6 percent of children who were between the ages of five through 19 had untreated dental caries.
- A little over 31.6 percent of adults who were between the ages of 20 through 44 had untreated dental caries.
Also, each year, around 30,000 individuals in the U.S. receive a diagnosis of oral cancer, which is highly treatable with proper dental care.
Factors you need to consider when you're looking for a quality family dentist include:
- If they accept your insurance.
- If they have positive testimonials and reviews.
- If they're up-to-date on the latest dental procedures and technologies.
- What their education and credentials are.
- What types of services they offer.
- What the culture of their office is like.
- What the dentist's qualities and personality are like.
When deciding on the right family dentist, it's important that you ensure your entire family will receive excellent dental health — particularly your children, since their teeth are still developing. Children need and want a patient and gentle dentist who has experience with working with children.
Although it’s great when a dentist has toys for kids available in the waiting room, it’s even more important for a dentist to show kindness and have a positive attitude, so your child feels safe and comfortable.
Factors to Consider When Finding the Right Family Dentist
Let's explore the factors to consider when it comes to finding a good dentist for you and your family.
Does the dentist accept your insurance? If the dental office you're looking into isn't in your network, you may want to consider another practice, since dental procedures can be a significant expense. It's probably a better idea to choose a family dentist who works with your insurance and has a reasonable fee structure. When families are on a tight budget, a dental practice that doesn't take their insurance can be a huge deal-breaker.
Education and Credentials
In the U.S., dentists have to attend an accredited dental school and graduate after passing both practical and written exams. They should also continue their education after graduation, since new technologies and procedures are popping up all the time and they'll need to keep up with them. Look on their website for their credentials, or just simply ask them. Questions you’ll likely want to have answered are:
- What are the dentist's education and credentials?
- How long have they been in practice?
- Do they participate in continuing dental education?
You'll also want to take note if the office has more than one dentist. If so, you'll want to check and see if they all hold the same level of credentials and experience. When you call the dental practice, ask questions. Find out if they treat not just adults but children and teens as well. Some family dentists don't work with children that are very young. They may refer them to a pediatric dentist. Therefore, it's important that you find out up front.
Another consideration is if your kids require braces. Does the family practice provide this service and routine care? It would be great to find a family dentist that offers not just braces, but also fillings, cleanings and other types of routine services. This is not only convenient but also a big time saver if you're a busy family.
Lastly, does anyone in your family suffer from dental fears and phobias? Finding a dentist that understands this natural feeling and offers special services like music, movies or sedation to help their patients relax is a bonus. You'll want to inquire about this before you set up an appointment. Caring dentists want to ensure you're comfortable during your visit and they and their office staff should welcome all questions.
Testimonials and Reviews
Testimonials and reviews may play a significant role in your choice of family dentist. Questions you’ll likely have include:
- What do the testimonials and reviews of the dentist look like?
- Do your family and friends who’ve visited this dental practice recommend it?
As you try to choose a family dentist, ask around. See if your family and friends can give you a referral. It's important to find a dentist who has a successful track record. Past and current patients are also good resources.
Check for reviews on several websites to see what the overall experience is with prior patients. When looking, if you see that most of the reviews are positive, then this is a good sign that they'll give you the attention and care you need. A simple online search will help you find reviews on different dentists. Check sites like:
However, there are many sites out there. It may feel tedious to go through pages of reviews, but this little bit of effort can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
When you’re looking to choose the right dentist for your family, it’s important to find a dentist that offers the types of services you’re looking for.
A proper professional teeth cleaning is important, but the family dentist should also offer a broad range of other dental services, so your entire family gets the proper dental care they need. You'll want a family dentist that offers all types of services from restorative dentistry to teeth whitening to wisdom tooth removal so you'll have one dentist that you can call on for all situations.
Examples of dental care services to check are:
- Family dentistry
- Kids dentistry
- Cavity treatment
- Preventative dentistry
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Wisdom tooth extractions
- Tooth removals
- Treatment of gum disease
- Root canal treatment
By finding a dentist in advance who offers all services and building a positive relationship with them, you can cover all your bases instead of having to bounce around from one dentist to the next to fulfill your needs.
Up-to-Date on Technologies and Procedures
When you look for a dentist, you’ll want to ask yourself if they’re up to date on the latest dental technologies and procedures. A broad range of modern dental services are available to patients, such as restorative care, cosmetic dentistry and family dentistry. It doesn't hurt to call ahead of time and find out if they're up-to-date on the latest dental procedures and technologies, including services like Invisalign braces and KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching™ System.
As another example — do they offer rotary endodontics? Endodontics is a dentistry branch that involves root canals and similar treatments in the attempt to save a tooth that's infected. A family dentist who has expertise in the rotary endodontics field is a huge plus. If you need a root canal — and a lot of people do — it’s reassuring to know that your dentist offers root canal treatments that use electric, state-of-the-art dental technology that's more efficient and quieter than traditional tools.
Rotary endodontics has other benefits as well. For example, the dentist will need fewer files during your root canal procedure. Nickel titanium files also provide improved flexibility while the dentists treat problematic or curved roots during the procedure.
The atmosphere and culture of the dental office are just as important as anything else when looking for a family dentist. Before choosing a dentist, pay a visit to the office and look around. Some things to note are:
- What is the office culture like?
- Do you think your family will feel comfortable there, especially your children?
- How does the office feel?
- Are staff members friendly and accommodating?
- Is the office clean and is the waiting room comfortable?
When your entire family feels more comfortable with a dental practice, they'll be less likely to skip dental appointments. Also, you'll be setting a good foundation for your kids for good future oral hygiene when they have a positive experience with the culture of the office and the dentist.
Not only should your dentist be skilled and experienced, but they should also be someone with whom you can build a great rapport. When it comes to a dentist, there's no substitute for one who can recognize potential dental issues and sit down with you to discuss your best options for treatment.
A family dentist who has already worked with both adults and young children understands diverse needs and respond appropriately and compassionately. Some questions you might ask yourself about your potential dentist include:
- What is the dentist’s personality like?
- Does it mesh well with you and your family?
- Does the dentist appear kind?
- Will you be comfortable going to this dentist for a long time?
Qualities Your Family Dentist Should Have
Some great qualities of a family dentist include:
- Good personal interaction
- Easy to talk to
- Aesthetically focused
- Enjoys their work
- Shows concern and compassion
- Leadership skills
- Communicates well
Close and Comfortable Personal Interaction
A lot of time that dentists spend is with their hands and face near their patients' faces. This personal interaction should be comfortable for both the patient and the dentist. Successful dentists won't have a problem being close to their patients and will maintain professional composure even if the patients have issues like bad breath.
It's important you trust your dentist to be very skilled and good at what they do. Dentists often work with sharp metal objects they put in your mouth, so it's important that you trust they'll take extra care. It's important the dentist does their best to avoid hurting the patients and takes the extra precautions necessary to ensure they have a pain-free experience.
Puts Patients at Ease
Good family dentists are easy to talk to. They learn about their patients on more of a personal level before they start treating them to ensure their patients feel at ease and are comfortable. When dentists are more personable, it makes the patients feel the dentist genuinely cares and thinks of them as a real person, not just a mouth to fix.
Often thought of as an art, cosmetic dentistry requires mastery of techniques that are unique to the profession. While maintaining good oral health is a top priority, the dentist should also focus on aesthetics. Your dentist's job involves bringing your teeth back to a healthy state and turning your smile into one that you'll be proud to show off to other people.
The dentist you choose should be detail oriented. They're working in a tiny space — your mouth. Therefore, it only takes a small misalignment of something in your mouth that can cause problems with your tooth health and bite. You want a detail-oriented dentist who you can trust to avoid these types of mistakes.
Excitement Towards the Dentistry Profession
Dentists who are successful enjoy their work and do what they do each day to help patients. Restoring patients' mouths to a healthy and beautiful state is fascinating work to most dentists. They are passionate about offering their patients the care they need.
Shows Concern and Compassion
Dentists should show concern and care about how their patients are feeling during a procedure. A good family dentist will communicate every step of the procedure with their patient and make sure they're doing okay and aren't in pain. They ensure their patients remain relaxed, comfortable and pain-free. They especially show care, compassion and kindness to their child patients.
Family dentists may work as part of a team, or they may own their own practice. Therefore, they're usually natural leaders. Not only do they have to lead a team of assistants, dental hygienists and technicians, but there are other employees to consider, such as receptionists. Dentists also have to make the business decisions for the practice too.
A good family dentist will be able to put complex processes and procedures into simple language that their patients understand. This lets the patient know what’s going on in their mouth at all times.
It's also important that you feel comfortable talking with your dentist. You'll want to vocalize concerns and ask questions about everything from flossing skills and cavities to snacks that won't harm your child's teeth.
Each time you visit a dental practice, it's not just the opportunity to have your family’s' teeth evaluated and treated, but it's also an opportunity to obtain relevant information about preventative care and oral health.
Treat You as More Than Just a Number
Many dental practices with a high volume of patients look to get their patients in and out of their office as quick as possible to keep their profits going. This means you might be missing out on quality care. Look for a dentist who commits to spending as much time as is needed to offer exceptional care to your entire family.
Taking all these factors into consideration is important when finding a great family dentist that you can rely on for all your dental needs for the long term. If these factors are important to you, you may want to consider choosing Dr. Prachi Vartikar DMD at Nirvana Dental as a potential candidate to become your family dentist.
Contact our office through our contact page or click on the "Book an Appointment" button to schedule your appointment with a dentistry practice in Bedford, Texas that goes that extra mile to provide you and your family with quality dental care.