searching for more than someone to just clean
your teeth. “Your dental health is such a vital
part of your overall health, so it’s important
for every patient to have a dental home,” says
Dr. Cathy Taylor-Osborne, an ADA dentist
and director of the Kansas Department of
Health and Environment’s Bureau of Oral
Health. “That means there is always someone
looking out for the best interest of you and
Having a dental home allows you to feel
comfortable when you’re dropping in for a
regular visit and gives you a safe and trusted
place to turn for a procedure or dental
emergency. Here’s how to find the best dental
fit for you and your family.
Start with the Basics
Regular visits are key to a
healthy smile, so start with the details that
work best with your lifestyle and dental
care needs. Some things to consider include:
-Is the office easy to get to from your home or job?
-Do they have convenient office hours?
-If you have dental benefits, is this dentist
in your network?
-Doctor-patient communication is very important.
Do you need translation or interpreter services?
-Is the dentist a member of the ADA? (Learn
about the 5 promises all ADA dentists make to
Launch the Search
Now that you’re looking for
a dentist, you’re probably noticing
advertisements online, in the newspaper and
even in your mailbox. Social media sites may also
have patient reviews of dentists near you, but
remember that every person’s dental health
needs and experiences are their own.
Here are some great places to start looking for a dentist:
-The ADA’s Find-A-Dentist tool. Search by
name and, location and specialty.
-Your local dental society. They can give you a list
of dentist’s names in your area.
-A trusted friend or relative. If your mother says
she loves her dentist, check them out!
-If you don’t have benefits or have trouble affording
dental services, your local health department or
nearby dental schools can help you find care.Here
are some helpful resources.
-Once you’ve found a few good candidates, visit their
websites and see if their offices are on social media
to learn more about them.
Meet and Greet
To find the right dentist, don’t
be shy about calling or visiting the dentists on your
list before deciding. “Schedule consultation time with
the dentist to meet with the dentist and staff
before making an appointment,” Dr. Taylor-Osborne
says. “Make a list of questions and bring your records
so the dentist can take a look at your dental history
if you want to ask something more specific.” You’ll
also be able to see if the office is welcoming,
comfortable and neat.
A few questions you might want to ask are:
-Will the dentist explain ways to help you
prevent dental health problems? Is dental health
-How does the dentist and office staff handle
emergencies outside of office hours?
-Is the office staff familiar with your benefit plan,
and do they offer financial options for treatment
-Will your medical and dental history be
recorded and placed in a permanent file?
Dr. Taylor-Osborne encourages anyone looking for a
dentist to share past dental experiences or dental
concerns, including any anxiety. “Make sure the
dentist understands your concerns and answers all
your questions,” she says.
Pick a Partner
Above all, you want to choose a dentist
who can be a part of your total health care team.
“So much of your dental health can impact your
overall health,” Dr. Taylor-Osborne says. “Look for
someone who can be a coach to motivate you, a
trusted advisor to turn to when health issues arise
and a partner to make dental care decisions with.”