It’s very likely you have at least a handful of dentists in your area to choose from. So, what makes one stick out from another? Here are some considerations to keep in mind when choosing or changing dentists, courtesy of BellaVista Dental Care’s Dr. Rashmi Bhatnagar.
Does your dentist accept your brand of healthcare? Are they in or out of network? Choosing a dentist that participates with your insurance is obviously a major perk. Don’t confuse this with dentists who say they’ll “work” with your insurance, which means you’ll likely be held liable for a larger chunk of money for services than with those who are contracted to participate with your plan.
“For example, if I’m a participating dentist with your insurance plan, it states in my contract that I’m going to charge no more than the contracted fee the insurance company has set for me,” says Dr. Bhatnagar. “If a tooth filling is, say, $200, I’m not able to collect more than that as a combination of what insurance pays and what the patient pays. The same isn’t true of out-of-network dentists.”
Location, Location, Location
Convenience is a necessity these days, and such is the case when choosing a dentist who you may see multiple times per year.
“As much as I would love to see you, if you’re coming from north Scottsdale, and I’m in Ahwatukee, you might be best served to choose a dentist in your area, especially if you are faced with frequent follow-up visits,” says Bhatnagar. “Proximity to either work or home is extremely important.”
While all dentists must attend dental school, what happens after could help determine who you pick as your dentist. Some dentists will do residency after school, some will go into specialized fields, and others will go into practice straight out of school.
“I’m not saying one is better than another, but these are factors that could help in deciding which dentist you prefer to go to,” says Bhatnagar. “Decide for yourself what you think will best fit your needs.”
Each state has a minimum number of continuing education hours to be completed before their license can be renewed.
“Are they the type of dentist that does the minimum, or do they go above and beyond?” questions Bhatnagar. “Often what I see when surfing the internet is those dentists who go above and beyond will state that on their website.”
Like continuing education, you’ll want to know how up-to-date your dentist’s technology is. And like continuing education, this information is often boasted of on a dentist’s website if applicable.
Male or Female?
Certain patients have certain preferences when it comes to the gender of their dentist. Pursue what makes you most comfortable. In many cases, such as BellaVista Dental Care, offices will have one or more doctors of each gender to accommodate these wishes.
If you’re curious, why not do things the old-fashioned way and stop in for a visit?
“Most offices will allow this, and it’s a good idea for the new patient,” says Bhatnagar. “Here, we offer tours of the office, and you’ll get a chance to meet the dentists as well.”
If your research isn’t yielding any promising results, ask around. It doesn’t hurt to find out from friends or family members what experiences they have had at various dentists in your area. Don’t be afraid to be inquisitive.