Knowing you have a good family dentist can be the difference between being happy to go for a check-up or putting off making an appointment. But what makes a good family dentist and what qualities should they have? On this page we’ll walk you through what to look out for.
The most important qualities a good family dentist should have are being knowledgeable, being an expert in their field, and being trustworthy. A dentist should have excellent communication skills and be compassionate. Your family dentist should be local and operate convenient office hours.
Below, we delve deeper into what makes a good family dentist.
How do I choose a family dentist?
Choosing the right family dentist is not the easiest task, especially when you consider the time it takes and the constraints of dental insurance you might be working within.
The best way to approach the task is to set out looking for a dentist you trust and feel comfortable with. It might be that they don’t tick every box, but feeling comfortable and confident visiting your dentist is the most important thing you can do for your family’s oral health.
Below are some of the things you might want to prioritise when looking for a family dentist.
Location and practical considerations
· Are they based near your home, work, or your children’s school?
· Do they have office hours convenient for your lifestyle?
· Do they have ample parking facilities?
· If you have accessibility needs, can they accommodate them?
· If English isn’t your first language, do they offer interpretation services? This is especially important as dentists (as with any healthcare practitioners) will use technical medical language which may be tricky to follow, even if you speak English really well.
How to tell if a dentist is good
Once you have considered the above, it’s then time to narrow your search by looking into the dentist’s qualities and credentials.
· Look for a dentist who has post-graduate training in an area of specialism that you’re looking to get treatment in, such as cosmetic dentistry or orthodontics (teeth straightening) for example.
· As a minimum, a dentist should have a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry (DMD) degree from a university-based dental program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). Dentists will require this to work in most states in the US.
· Check whether the dentist is a member of any official associations, such as the American Dental Association (ADA) or the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD). These memberships show that the dentist has agreed to follow the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. Though it’s important to note that dentists don’t have to be members of these associations to practice dentistry in the US.
· Read testimonials or reviews from other patients to get an idea of how happy patients are with their treatment and the dentist.
· Ask what the surgery’s payment plans and insurance are so you have an idea of how much they charge and if you’re able to pay in instalments for treatment.
When you find a dentist you like, ask for a tour of the surgery so you can see the facilities and meet the team. Visiting the premises will allow you to get a sense of how comfortable you feel there and give you the opportunity to see how clean and professional the surgery is.
By visiting the surgery in person you’ll be able to make a better informed decision about choosing the dental practice.
If you’re concerned about choosing the wrong dental practice, then read on to find out how to avoid making the wrong decision. Remember though, most dentists are good and most people are satisfied with visiting the dentist – one survey stated that up to 97% of people were satisfied with their dentistry.
What personal qualities should a good dentist have
On a personal level, qualities of a good dentist include being a great communicator, listening to your concerns and questions, and talking you through every step of the check-up and treatment process. For example, a good dentist will explain what they are doing, such as showing you your dental X-rays and explaining what they mean.
Your dentist should be empathetic and compassionate and make you feel comfortable at all times.
Honesty is a key personal quality all good dentists will have, they should be open with you about your oral health and the treatments you need.
“…dentists must be truthful when recommending treatment, when describing different treatment options and when explaining what they involve and how they compare.”
The impact of choosing a bad dentist
Choosing the wrong dentist can make trips to the dentist extremely stressful, or else you may end up not going at all.
Trusting your family dentist is key to attending regular appointments. According to one study, people with a low trust of dentists were 54% less likely to have a regular dentist than those with high trust. For some people, their reluctance to visit a dentist comes from fear, and a past negative experience with a dentist can cause or exacerbate that fear.
“An individual may have had a negative experience of visiting the dentist in the past, with evidence suggesting that DFA [Dental Fear and Anxiety] is more likely to have occurred in childhood, may have known someone who had a past negative experience…”
Choosing the right dentist can ensure you and your family see going to the dentist as a positive experience.
What are the signs of a bad dentist?
First impressions count for a lot. Starting with the dental practice, if it has poor hygiene, is poorly lit, has very few patients, or just generally feels unwelcoming or unprofessional, then it might be time to look elsewhere.
When you do find a dental practice that is clean, professional and popular, then it’s time to consider the dentist themselves.
If the dentist checks out your teeth and then starts to recommend numerous procedures, this could be a warning sign, especially if you’ve had regular check-ups before and don’t have any long-term issues with your teeth.
If your dental exam seems brief and/or the dentist doesn’t ask for your dental records, then this is a warning sign. It’s going to be difficult for them to diagnose any issues without a thorough examination of your teeth and your dental history.
Another tell-tale sign of a potentially bad dental practice is being offered discounts or deals, such as a free examination or free clean. Deals like this may get people through the door, but there’s no guarantee that you won’t be charged more further down the line. A good dentist can rely on their reputation and recommendations to attract new customers.
Instinct plays a strong part in recognising a bad dentist, if the treatment seems confusing and the dentist isn’t willing to answer your questions then they’re unlikely to be the right dentist for you (or anyone!).
If you’re looking for a new dentist who offers exceptional dental care, we’d love you to get in touch. You can schedule an appointment by calling (410) 740-9400 or by clicking the Get Started button below.