Choosing a new healthcare provider can be quite a headache, especially if you’re trying to find one for your entire family. A good family practitioner who can cater to the specific needs of both children and adults is often difficult to find, and this is doubly true for specialty services like dentistry.
A lot of us forget that regular trips to the dentist are incredibly important – both for your oral health and overall physical well-being. It is advised that adults visit a dentist for a check-up every six months, or at least once every twelve months at the minimum. Regular dental visits are just as important for children, and you might be surprised at how early they need to start. Kids should have their first check-up within a few weeks of cutting their first tooth, or at least once before age one.
A check-up should include a thorough cleaning and occasionally other procedures like X-rays to monitor or proactively treat any dental conditions. For children, it should also include explanations about the importance of proper oral hygiene and tips and tricks on how to brush and floss.
It is best to look for a dentist who can offer routine and specialty services, such as tooth pulling, cavity filling, and bridges and crowns, in case the need ever arises for you or one of your family members. Finding a practice with a wide range of services can save you the hassle of having to be referred to an outside specialist. Overall, when it comes to finding a new family dentist, you’ll want to assess the following four categories:
When searching for a new family dentist, first and foremost, you need to evaluate the level of education and qualifications that any potential practices have. While all dentists are required to complete a certain amount of schooling, most choose to pursue additional schooling to earn fellowships and certifications in specific focus areas, such as pediatric dentistry.
It is also important to research the qualifications of the dental assistants and hygienists in the practice because unless you are there for a specific procedure, they are the ones who will be providing the majority of your care. Most dentists merely come in after the hygienist is done to verify their work and see if you have any additional concerns.
Look for a practice that has continuing education requirements or incentives – this helps to ensure that your providers are always using the most up-to-date techniques. At a minimum, a potential practice should have at least one dentist in-house who has current certifications in areas that are relevant to your family, like pediatric dentistry.
In addition to checking their qualifications, you should also consider the overall level of experience of the practice and everyone in it. How long has the practice existed? How long has your primary dentist been in practice? What kind of experience do the hygienists have?
You will also want to look into the experience your provider has with certain areas and procedures. They may be qualified to do something, but they might not perform it frequently enough to stay well practiced. Don’t hesitate to ask how often the dentists perform certain procedures, or to see their qualifications.
In order to receive the best care possible, it is important that your dental provider is well versed in all the services you and your family might require. Providers understand this and should be happy to do everything they can to make you feel comfortable.
3. Services Offered
This category is probably one of the first things you’ll look at and one of the easiest to research. When screening potential dental practices, you want to see what services they offer beyond the basic cleaning and checkup. This information is usually prominently displayed on their website, but you can also call them and ask.
Some services you might want to look for are:
- Crowns, bridges, and fillings
- Implants and dentures
- Tooth extractions
- Sedation – both for surgical procedures and cases of extreme anxiety
- Cosmetic procedures
- Child-specific dentistry
You’ll also want to make sure your insurance covers those procedures at that practice. Some insurance policies can be fickle; they might cover a tooth extraction, but only from certain providers. It will be easier for you in the long run if you can find a provider who can do everything you need in-house.
The final thing you should take into consideration is the overall atmosphere of the office and practice – especially if you’re going to have your children seen there. Children – and often many adults – can experience terrible anxiety and fear when faced with a trip to the dentist. You’ll want to look for a practice that understands this and goes above and beyond to make everyone comfortable.
Evaluate the waiting room: Is it child-friendly? Are there plenty of toys or books to keep them occupied? Also, watch how the desk staff interacts – this will likely be a reflection of the practice’s overall attitude – and observe how the dentists and hygienists interact with other patients and children.
Keep in mind that a good family practitioner is skilled at working with patients of all ages and understands that children require a different chairside manner and a different set of tools than adults. You should try to avoid a practice that treats children and adults in the same way.
The best way to feel out a potential new dentist is to set up an initial consultation. While no dental work will be done that day, it is an opportunity for you and your family to visit the office, meet the staff, and get a feel for their ability to meet the unique needs of your family. Make sure to bring anyone you wish to have seen there.
By considering these 4 essential factors, you can be assured of finding the right dentist for you and your family. For a Woodbridge family dentist with experience, dedication to patient care, and well-rounded speciality services, contact our office today!