It’s that time of year. For many of us, health and dental insurances change January 1st .Even if we are still working for the same company, due to rising health care costs, companies are constantly shopping around for the best insurance rates for themselves and their employees. When insurance changes, often the list of “in network” or “preferred provider” dentists changes. Since “in network” rates are often much cheaper than “out of network” rates, many people will change dentists to get the cheaper rates, no matter what loyalty they may feel to their current dentist.
What is the best way to choose a dentist? Do we just pull up the list of preferred providers and randomly pick one? Is there a more informed way to choose a dentist? Below are 5 tips to help you to choose a dentist who will keep you and your teeth happy and healthy.
- Look at a dentist’s website. Many dentists have websites. A website isn’t a requirement to be a good dentist but can give clues about the quality of care a dentist provides. Many dentists’ websites will show pictures of their offices and will discuss procedures they do at the office. They may also discuss technology they use. For example, does a prospective dentist use digital x-rays? What forms of sedation do they offer? Do they have TVs in the ceiling to distract patients during procedures? Do they cater to children? Looking at a website may help you answer some of these questions.
- Read independent online reviews. How many people have reviewed the dentist online? If it’s 10 or less, the reviews may not be reliable since they may be friends of the dentist or people who hated the dentist and wrote something extreme. The truth of the dentist’s expertise may lie in the middle. Review sites with 50+ reviews may be the most helpful. Look for reviews that relate a story and give specifics. Websites like Angie’s List provide dentist reviews.
- Ask friends, family, or coworkers for recommendations. If friends or family have had a good experience with a particular dentist, chances are you will, too. Friends will not recommend a dentist they have had a bad experience with.
- Consider location and hours. Do you want your dentist to be located close to work or home? Are evening and Saturday hours important to you? As great as a dentist may be, if he or she is located too far away, you may avoid going and that defeats the purpose in having a dentist.
- Go try a dentist out. You can do all the research you want but you won’t really know if you like a dentist until you go. Consider your first cleaning a trial period. Notice the ease of making an appointment, the friendliness of the staff, sanitary practices, and the bedside manner of the dentist. Remember, if you don’t like the dentist you picked, it’s easy to change.