Looking for a dentist? You might need to find a new dentist to work with because you’ve recently moved to the area around Payson, Arizona, because your dental insurance changed or because your current dental care provider is retiring. You might also be looking for a dentist because it’s been some time since you had a checkup, and you’re wondering about the health of your teeth and gums.
Going to the dentist regularly not only keeps your teeth clean. Regular dental visits can help you get needed treatment, such as cavities filled, in a timely fashion. In the U.S., more than 31 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 44 had untreated cavities. Meanwhile, just 64.4 percent of adults had seen a dentist within the past year.
The health of your teeth, gums and mouth can influence your overall health. Treating dental issues quickly can keep them from spreading to other areas of the body, such as the heart. If you have certain chronic conditions, such as diabetes, regularly seeing a dentist is particularly essential.
Nearly 200,000 dentists are practicing in the U.S., or about 61 dentists for every 100,000 people, so finding a good dentist who’s qualified to clean your teeth and treat any dental issues you might be having shouldn’t be too difficult.
Not all dentists are equal, though, which can make it challenging to find the best dentist for you and your family. You’ll want to think about several things, such as logistical concerns and interpersonal concerns, when you choose a dentist.
What Do People Look for When Choosing a New Dentist?
People pay attention to a variety of factors when choosing a dentist. In one study of 1,650 people, 724 of them had seen a dentist within the past year. Among the factors people said were most important to them when finding a dentist were:
- The competence of the dentist — 22 percent of respondents
- The dentist came recommended by family or friend — 20 percent of respondents
- The quality of the service the dentist provides — 19 percent of respondents
- The patience of the dentist — 9 percent of respondents
- The distance of the office from home/work — 8 percent of respondents
- The respect the dentist has for their patients — 6 percent of respondents
Tips to Help You Choose the Right Dentist
Whether you’re new to the area or are looking for a dentist after not having seen one for some time, don’t rush the process. Your insurance company might have provided you with a list of dental providers that are in its network, but there’s more to finding the best dentist than picking a name off a list.
In some ways, finding the right dentist for your family means trusting your gut. If you’re interviewing a dentist or have gone in for an exam or cleaning, and something feels off, you might want to continue your search.
When you’re evaluating dental practices, there are some services and amenities to keep an eye out for to help you determine if a particular dentist is right for you. There are also some questions worth asking a dentist to see if their practice is right for you.
Things to Look for When Finding a New Dentist
Share this Image On Your Site
What do you need or want from your dentist? Here are just a few things to look for or to note.
- The practice’s location: Ideally, your new dentist will be in an area that is easy for you to reach. Some people prefer to work with a dentist that is close to their home, while others prefer a practice location that is near their job or their kids’ school.
- The opening hours of the practice: Some dental offices aren’t open all that frequently. Does the office open early or stay open late? Is it open on weekdays only or the weekend? You want to work with a practice that has hours that are convenient for you and that work with your schedule.
- When appointments are available: Even if a dental office is open early or late, if the practice has a full patient roster, it can be challenging to get an appointment. Find out how long you’ll have to wait before you can see the dentist.
- The dentist’s qualifications: It’s worth finding out where the dentist went to school, what degree they earned and if they have additional qualifications or specializations. You also want to find out if they are a member of a dental society and how long they have been providing dental care and treatment.
- The services on offer: If you have a dental problem that goes beyond basic cavities, will the dentist treat it, or will they need to refer you to a specialist? It’s also worthwhile to find out if the practice offers emergency care or if someone from the practice sees patients after hours in case of emergencies.
- The languages spoken at the dental practice: Even if you can read, write and speak nearly fluently in English, it can be helpful to find a dentist who speaks your native language. It can sometimes be easier to understand your treatment options and what the dentist is recommending if they can convey the information to you in your native language.
- The insurance plans the practice accepts: If you plan on using insurance, make sure the dental practice is part of your plan’s network.
When researching dentists in Payson, Arizona, and the surrounding area, it’s a good idea to keep notes on each of the practices you consider. That way, you can make a short list at the end of your search that contains dental offices that meet your needs regarding appointment availability, opening hours, office location and so on. Once you have narrowed down a list of potential providers, get in touch with the practices on the list and schedule a consultation.
Questions to Ask When Finding a New Dentist
A consultation with a new dentist helps you further narrow down your short list and ultimately find the provider who’s a good match for you and your family’s needs. You can ask the dentist several questions during your consultation to get a better idea of the type of practice they run or work for and the services on offer.
Here are a few questions you’ll want to ask during your consultation.
1. What Types of Patient Does Your Practice Treat?
If you are looking for a dentist for your entire family, it’s a good idea to confirm the practice you’re evaluating sees both adults and children. Many general dentists do see patients of all ages, but it’s worth verifying the fact.
Another thing worth confirming is whether or not the patient has experience working with people with special needs or chronic conditions. If you or a member of your family are on the autism spectrum or are living with a disease such as diabetes or HIV/AIDS, it’s a good idea to verify the dentist will be able to provide the best treatment to you.
2. How Does Your Practice Handle Insurance Claims?
If you are considering a dental practice that is in your insurance plan’s network, it’s essential that you understand the process they use for filing any claims. Some offices require patients to submit claims themselves, while others will handle the paperwork for you.
Whether or not a practice files claims isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker. It’s worth knowing what your obligations will be should you decide to move forward with a particular provider.
It’s also a good idea to find out how the office handles payments. If your insurance policy will pay for your claim, is it on you to pay the provider first, at the time of your appointment, then wait for reimbursement from your insurance plan? Or, does the dental practice bill the insurance company first, then have you pay any balance remaining?
3. How Do You Work With Patients Who Have Dental Phobia or Anxiety?
Some patients have a genuine fear of going to the dentist. Their fear and anxiety can be due to previous, unpleasant experiences in the dentist’s chair. Some dentists go out of their way to make patients who are nervous, fearful or anxious about their visit feel comfortable and calm in the chair.
In some cases, a dentist might provide anxious or worried patients with sedation, such as laughing gas or IV sedation, to help them relax. If you are concerned about dental phobia or anxiety, it’s a good idea to learn more about the techniques the dentist uses to put patients at ease.
4. What Happens If I Need Extensive Dental Work?
There might come a time when your mouth needs more than a simple teeth cleaning. When you’re interviewing dentists, it’s a good idea to ask them what their process is for providing patients with more extensive dental treatments.
Ideally, the dentist will be willing to work with patients until they fully understand what the treatment involves and what they need to do before, during and after it. The dentist should also be willing to explain all the available options to a patient and help guide them to the solution that makes the most sense for them.
5. In an Emergency, What Do I Do?
Many dental practices offer emergency dental treatment, but not all do. Some that see patients on an emergency basis only do so if the office happens to be open at the moment. It’s worth finding out if the practice offers emergency treatment and if they see patients after hours. If not, it’s a good idea to find out where you can go if you have an urgent after-hours dental need.
6. What Payment Options Are Available to Me?
Cash might be king, but it’s also worth learning what other payment methods the practice accepts. If you do have to pay for your dental work out of pocket, you might be interested in learning about financing options offered by the practice.
7. How Does Your Office Handle Canceled or Missed Appointments?
Sometimes, life gets in the way of your dental visit. If you do have to cancel your appointment, how far in advance should you do it? It’s also a good idea to find out if the practice charges a fee for canceled appointments or for appointments not canceled a specific number of hours or days in advance.
8. Do You Offer Specials to Patients?
Dental practices will often offer specials to welcome new patients to their practice, as well as discounts to thank patients for staying with them. For example, some practices will provide a free cleaning, X-rays and consultation to first-time patients. Learning about any specials can be a good idea, whether or not you plan on using insurance to pay for your dental treatment.
How to Choose a Dentist: Where to Turn for Help
Sometimes, you can’t beat the human touch when it comes to getting recommendations for a new dentist. Friends and family who live near you can help you in your search for a new dentist.
Asking friends and family for recommendations can give you a “behind-the-scenes” look at a dental office. You can get honest answers and opinions from them about everything from how the dentist processes insurance claims and payments to how empathetic and friendly the dentist is beside the chair. Your friends and family can also give you an idea of whether or not the dentist uses high-pressure tactics or tries to convince them to have treatments they don’t need or want.
If you don’t know anyone in the area or you’re moving far from home, your current dentist can also be an excellent resource to you when you’re choosing a dentist. Your current dentist can refer to you to another provider in your new town. If you aren’t currently seeing a dentist, your primary care physician or other medical professional might be able to make a recommendation or two.
Evaluate How You Feel About the Dentist
After your consultation or initial meeting with a dentist, do a “gut check” to see how you feel about using that practice for your dental needs. Do you feel as if the dentist answered your questions thoroughly, or is there information missing? Did you feel comfortable in the office?
It’s also worth evaluating the practice itself. Was it clean and well-maintained, or did it look as if its last overhaul was sometime in the past century? Were people sitting around in the waiting room for extended periods, or did it seem as if patients were getting quick and efficient treatment?
Your dentist is an essential member of your medical team. You want to work with someone or with a team that has your best interests at heart, and that will provide you with the care and treatments you need.
About Anderson Dental Group
Located in Payson, Arizona, Anderson Dental Group is open five days a week and provides a range of services to dental patients, from preventive care exams to emergency services. We strive to create a comfortable atmosphere in our office so you can relax and feel at ease, no matter what type of dental treatment you’re receiving.
We offer a variety of payment options to our patients, as well as new and returning patient specials, to help make dental care affordable. Payson Dental office to learn more about our services and to schedule your initial, free consultation.